Feb. 19, 2006
Ypsilanti, MI --- Saturday's (Feb. 18) dual-meet loss was a particularly tough one for the Northern Illinois University women*s gymnastics squad.
First and foremost was losing by a slim 192.450 - 191.750 tally to Eastern Michigan University. Second was having standout all-arounder Leah Johnson (Glenview / Glenbrook South) become a medical question mark after she appeared to hyperextend her knees in landing a second vault attempt. Regardless of any future medical evaluation, the talented freshman's absence necessitated a re-shuffling of the line-up for the last two events.
The good news was that several other gymnasts stepped up and performed quite admirably in coach Mark Sontag's opinion. However, it still wasn't quite enough to keep EMU from improving to 3-5 overall and 3-1 in Mid-Am competition while the Huskies slipped to 2-5 and 2-3.
"Obviously we're concerned about Leah's status because she has proven to be so valuable to us. At the same time, something that demoralizng and very scary for gymnasts often can cause teams to lose their focus. I*m really proud of how we continued to compete," Sontag insisted. "Quite frankly, 191.750 is a good road score. This was the first time this season we haven't had to count a single routine with a fall in it. The scoring was very tight and honestly, it was a little hard to understand at times. I could see where these routines might*ve been worth 193-plus in some other places."
Northern Illinois opened up on the bars with a 47.700 team score while Eastern Michigan began with a 48.550 for the vault. It was on the second rotation when Johnson got injured. While NIU went 48.150 for the vault, the host Eagles put together a 48.075 on the bars to get themselves comfortably ahead.
With Johnson sidelined, freshman Jennifer Naughton (Smithville, MO) stepped up to lead the Huskies with a 9.725 that became the meet*s top balance beam score and her 9.750 was good for a tie for second on floor exercise. She and her teammates outscored the hosts on floor ex by 48.175-48.025 tally.
"Jen was right on all the way, just simply rock solid," Sontag said. "She competes so very well for a freshman and was a great example for the others to follow. And we had a mix of newcomers and upperclass gymnasts come through for us. On beam, Jody Yednock
(West Chicago) gave us scoring when she was originally supposed to be getting back in form with an exhibition."
Yednock added a 9.575 for the Huskies who also had 9.600s from both Amy Ristvedt (Alexandria, MN / Johnson) and Amber Whitecotton (Crystal Lake / South). Yet another plus was the return to action of senior Ashlee Williams (Liberty, MO), who matched teammate Whitecotton for the top NIU bars score of 9.675. The Huskies' Allison Holysz (Hoffman Estates / Palatine Fremd) was next in line at 9.600.
"Having Ashlee back on bars was a real plus, expecially considering that Leah was pretty much leading us in all events. That's like losing her four times. And yet, we stayed right with Eastern. Amy (Ristvedt) gave us three good scores on beam, floor and vault while Amber did the same," Sontag added.
Eastern Michigan's Zu Vuong used a 9.775 to win the floor ex as the foundation to capture the all-around title with a 38.475. Teammate Jolene Worley was first on the uneven bars at 9.750 while Tawna Bennet had a 9.825 to win the vault, just ahead of the Huskies' Naughton, who posted a 9.750. Ristvedt was fourth on vault with a 9.725 and tied for third on beam along with teammate Whitecotton at 9.600. Bethany Plapp (Sycamore / DeKalb) was fifth on floor with a 9.675.
Northern Illinois has its busiest weekend of the season ahead as the Huskies journey to Columbia, MO, for Friday (Feb. 24) night's 7 p.m. University of Missouri Cat Classic followed on Sunday (Feb. 26) by the 2 p.m. University of Nebraska Master*s Classic.
WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS --- Northern Illinois University at Eastern Michigan University / at Ypsilanti, MI / EMU's Waryner Gymnasium / Saturday / Feb. 18, 2006
EASTERN MICHIGAN 192.450, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 191.750
(at Ypsilanti, MI / EMU*s Warner Gymnasium)
Vault: 1---Tawna Bennett (EMU), 9.825) 2--(Tie)--Jennifer Naughton (NIU) / Monica Lucas (EMU), 9.750; 4---Amy Ristvedt (NIU), 9.725; 5---Jolene Worley (EMU), 9.700; 6---Stefanie james (EMU) 9.650. Other NIU Scores: Bethany Plapp, 9.525; Tiffany Anderson 9.525; Amber Whitecotton 9.265; Leah Johnson 9.250. Team Score: EMU 48.550, NIU 48.150
Uneven Parallel Bars: 1---Jolene Worley (EMU), 9.750; 2--Emily Cercado (EMU) 9.700; 3---Ashlee Williams (NIU), Amber Whitecotton (NIU), 9.675; 5--(Tie)--Allison Holysz (NIU), Zu Vuong (EMU) 9.600; 6--Monica Lucas (EMU) 9.525. Other NIU Scores: Meghan Cronin 9.500; Tiffany Anderson 9.500; Leah Johnson 9.425; Bethany Plapp 9.200. Team scores: EMU 48.075, NIU 47.700.
Balance Beam: 1---Jennifer Naughton (NIU), 9.725; 2---Rebecca Fuss (EMU) 9.650; 3--(Tie)--Amy Ristvedt (NIU), Amber Whitecotton (NIU), 9.600; 5--(Tie)--Jody Yednock (NIU), Julie Warmbrodt (EMU) 9.575. Other NIU Scores: Meghan Cronin 9.225, Jennifer Rice 8.625 Team scores: EMU 47.800, NIU 47.725.
Floor Exercise: 1---Zu Vuong (EMU), 9.775; 2--(Tie)--Jennifer Naughton (NIU), Nicole O*Hara (EMU), Rebecca Fuss (EMU) 9.750; 5---Bethany Plapp (NIU), 9.675; 6---Amber Whitecotton 9.650. Other NIU Scores: Jennifer Rice 9.625; Amy Ristvedt 9.475; Amanda Johnson 8.850. NIU 48.175, EMU 48.025.
All-Around: 1---Duven Zu Vuong (EMU) 38.475; 2--Rebecca Fuss (EMU) 378.375; 3--Jolene Worley 37.825.
NIU Record to Date: 2-5 / MAC: 2-3
Next Huskie Meet: Friday / Feb. 24 --- Northern Illinois University at University of Missouri Cat Classic, 7 p.m.
Sunday / Feb. 26 --- Northern Illinois University at University of Nebraska Masters Classic, 2 p.m.
(For further information, please contact Steve Nemeth) -NIU-