Feb. 23, 2007
MUNCIE, Ind. - Coming off its top performance of the season a week ago versus the ninth-ranked University of Denver team, the Northern Illinois women's gymnastics team had high expectations for its return to Mid-American Conference competition Friday night at Ball State. Despite several strong individual performances and a good showing on vault, the Huskies fell to the Cardinals by one point at Irving Gym, 192.45-191.45.
"As a team, we didn't have a good meet with too many misses on bars and beam," said NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag. "It was a frustrating evening. But you also have to give Ball State credit, they hit their routines tonight. They're a good team, they just hadn't been hitting. This shows that any team in the MAC is capable."
The loss drops NIU's record to 4-5 on the season, 0-3 in the MAC while Ball State improves to 2-6, 1-3.
Northern Illinois' strongest event Friday was the vault, where sophomore Leah Johnson posted the Huskies' top vault score of the season, a 9.850, to take first place. NIU's Natalie Blum and Jennifer each scored 9.725 on their vault efforts to tie for second as the Huskies tallied a season-high team score of 48.600 on the event.
Northern Illinois also took the individual title on the uneven parallel bars where senior Jody Yednock tied her season best with a 9.850 to win the event. Huskies Blum and Allison Holysz tied for fourth with matching marks of 9.575 on bars.
On the balance beam, NIU was led by senior Meghan Cronin who earned a 9.700 to take second place while Jennifer Rice was fifth with a 9.600. As a team, though, the Huskies total a 47.075 while Ball State's gymnasts combined for a 48.150.
On the floor exercise, the Huskies' Rice and Blum tied for second with scores of 9.775 and junior Amber Whitecotton
notched a 9.750 to tie for fifth. Johnson took second place in the all-around with a 38.200 despite suffering an injury on the uneven parallel bars.
"Our vault and floor were strong points for us today and our bars and beam were the weaker events," Sontag said. "Last week, it was the opposite. We're at that point in season where we're good on all four events, just not getting the consistency. We're not quite putting the whole picture together yet. We'll get there."
The Huskies will return immediately to the gym on Sunday in Champaign where they will take on Illinois and a Top 10 ranked Iowa State team in a 2 p.m. meet.
"The meet Sunday will be a good opportunity to take this as a learning experience," Sontag said. "With the injuries we have sustained, we know that capability is there, we just need to get the job done. We don't have the room to absorb a miss here or there. To be competitive, we have to hit. It's tough but we can do it - we have the talent and the depth to get it done."
-- NIU --