Feb. 28, 2009
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Although the Northern Illinois women's gymnastics team lost to No. 18 Minnesota at the UM Sports Pavilion Saturday night, the Huskies' trip north resulted in several positive outcomes for head coach Mark Sontag's young team.
Not only did the atmosphere provide Northern Illinois with a taste of postseason in terms of crowd and meet presentation, but the Huskies' improved their regional qualifying score with Saturday's team road total of 192.975. NIU is now able to throw out a road score of 192.475 from earlier this season which will not count toward the Huskies' average. NIU is now 4-4 overall on the year as Minnesota prevailed 195.850-192.975.
NIU was en route to an even better night entering the last event, but the Huskies had three falls on the balance beam, two of which had to be counted toward the team score.
"Beam was our Achilles heel tonight," Sontag said. "We had three pretty good events and if we'd have hit beam, we'd have had a real nice road score. As it turns out, we have a decent road score, but not quite what we wanted. Overall, this will help us, just not quite as much as it could have."
NIU junior Natalie Blum (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township HS) claimed the top placing for Northern Illinois on the night as she tied for second on vault with a 9.825 and added a fifth place showing on floor exercise after a 9.700. Sophomore all-arounder Holly Reichard (Palatine, Ill./Palatine Fremd HS) tallied a 38.950 to place third in the all-around with a 9.750 on floor to take third in that event. Her highest score of the day came on vault where she was fifth with a 9.775. Senior Jennifer Naughton (Smithville, Mo./Smithville HS) also put together three solid routines for NIU as she took fourth on vault with a 9.800 and was sixth on both the beam (9.775) and floor exercise (9.675).
really did a great job for us today," Sontag said. "She had a really good day, as did Jen Naughton. Holly went 38.95 and that score should have been higher but she didn't get credit for one element on floor exercise. We had some good production from some of our key people just not enough."
Northern Illinois' top finisher on uneven bars was freshman Ashley Guerra (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg HS), who came in with a career best 9.775 to take sixth place on the event. Guerra also scored well on the balance beam in an exhibition which did not count toward the team score.
Sontag also took his team to Minnesota so that they could experience a meet in a different environment than one they have seen so far this year. The meet drew an energetic crowd of 1,731 at the Sports Pavilion.
"I wanted us to see and hopefully learn how to handle this type of atmosphere," Sontag said. "Our youngsters have now been there and seen this environment and that will help us down the road."
The Huskies' next road stop is in Kalamazoo, Mich. as NIU will face Western Michigan on Monday, March 9 in its final dual meet of the season.
-- NIU --