Feb. 11, 2007
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois gymnastics team posted a team season-best score of 192.550 but still found themselves on the short end of a dual meet versus Mid-American Conference leader Kent State Sunday at the NIU Convocation Center.
The loss dropped the Huskies' season record to 4-3, 0-2 in the Mid-American Conference while Kent State improved to 6-2, 3-0.
Northern Illinois recorded season highs, team-wise, on the beam and floor as several Huskies earned their individual top marks of the year. Kent State used a 48.975 on their first event, the uneven parallel bars, to power the Golden Flashes to a 193.950.
"I like the direction we're going with this team," said NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag. "I see a lot of improvement in our overall performance, we did a better job of execution. It was not a perfect meet, but it was good to have a pretty good outing versus the number one team in the MAC. It should show our team that we can compete with the best in the league."
Individually, NIU sophomore Leah Johnson had her top all-around performance of the year with a 38.550 score that included a 9.775 to tie for second place on vault, a 9.625 on bars and a 9.600 on the beam.
Huskie freshman Natalie Blum won the floor event title with a 9.775 despite nearly being pulled from the meet due to a rough landing on the vault.
"Natalie Blum did an awesome job on floor," Sontag said. "She could have said she couldn't go, but she went out and got the job done with a great performance."
Sontag was also happy to see the return of senior Amy Ristvedt, who, in her first action of the season, earned a 9.750 on vault despite only practicing for a week and a half. Junior Jennifer Rice, another NIU gymnast still coming back from injury, had season bests on floor and beam with scores of 9.650 and 9.550, respectively.
Northern Illinois' best performer on bars was Allison Holysz
, who scored a season-best 9.750, while Jennifer Naughton
led the Huskies' beam contingent with a 9.675 to take third place on that event, and tied Johnson for NIU honors on the vault at 9.775 to place second.
"I'm proud of some people who stepped up and were competitors today," Sontag said. "The desire is there and the training is paying off. We haven't peaked yet; there is still room to improve and no reason not to continue to improve."
Northern Illinois now hits the road for its next three competitions, beginning with next Saturday when the Huskies step out of conference to take on Denver in Denver, Colo. NIU returns home March 4 for a 1 p.m. dual meet versus Eastern Michigan.