Feb. 19, 2010
KENT, Ohio - The Northern Illinois gymnastics team continues to raise the bar on the 2010 season as for the sixth straight meet, the Huskies recorded their highest team score of the year despite falling to the MAC defending champions and preseason favorites Kent State, 194.575-192.775. Overall, NIU took second in the triangular meet as the Huskies outdistanced Rutgers.
Northern Illinois's record stands at 6-3, 2-2 in the Mid-American Conference, while Kent State improved to 6-2, 3-0 in extending their MAC winning streak to 16 straight dual victories.
NIU's 192.775 score is .350 points ahead of its previous best, set in its last meet in Texas. The Huskies' total score included season high team totals on the vault, balance beam and floor exercise as Northern Illinois counted just one "missed" routine on the night.
"The girls competed really well," said NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag. "I am very happy about our performance. We went out and had a strong meet against the conference favorites. We only counted one miss today - that was on bars, so it's our best performance so far [this year] as far as hitting all of our routines. It's the closest we have come this year."
Junior Holly Reichard (Palatine, Ill./Palatine Fremd HS) continues to round into form in just her third meet back as an all-arounder. The 2009 MAC Gymnast of the Year took second place on balance beam with a team-high 9.775 and was Northern Illinois' highest finisher on the uneven parallel bars, scoring 9.775. Reichard took third in the all-around as she totaled 38.750 over all four events. She finished just ahead of teammate Tanya Rachan (Lowell, Ind./Hanover Central HS), who scored 38.600, including a team-best 9.800 on floor exercise to take fifth on that event.
Other top finishes for Northern Illinois came from Ashley Guerra (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg HS), who placed third on balance beam with a career-best 9.750, and senior Natalie Blum (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township HS), who tied for fifth on vault (9.725) and tied for seventh on floor (9.750). Freshman Natalie Sutter (Barberton, Ohio/Coventry HS), in a return to her hometown, scored a 9.675 on vault to tie for eighth. NIU placed five gymnasts in the top eight on balance beam.
"Holly stepped up and got the job done. She hit all four events; she was solid," Sontag said. "Natalie Sutter
was in front of her home crowd in her hometown so it was a nice homecoming for her. She had so many people here watching. I'm not used to NIU having fans in this neck of the woods but it was a nice thing for our team."
Sontag was pleased with the way his team went into the meet against the league leaders, and the way NIU rebounded after a pair of falls put the Huskies in a difficult position after the first event of the night.
"We saw where [Kent State] is and where we are," Sontag said. "We didn't go in intimidated, we stayed with our game plan. After [the miss] in the first event we were `uh oh,' but we rallied back and didn't let it get to us. We also didn't roll over in front of the strongest team we've faced so far this year. Those are two things we took away from here that I really see as a step in the right direction for the program. We are making progress toward where we want to go."
Next, Northern Illinois returns to DeKalb for its final home meet of the season as the Huskies take on Central Michigan on Sunday, Feb. 28 at the Convocation Center.
-- NIU -
Keep up with all the news on Northern Illinois sports, read "Huskie Happenings" daily on www.NIUHuskies.com.