March 6, 2010
CHICAGO - Northern Illinois recorded its second-highest team score of the season, posted its season-high team total on vault, and saw several gymnasts set or equal their season and career highs, but the Huskies faltered late on balance beam, giving the UIC Flames a 193.275-192.575 victory over NIU Saturday at the PE Building.
Northern Illinois entered the last event of the meet holding a .775 lead over UIC, but was forced to shuffle its balance beam line-up when junior Holly Reichard (Palatine, Ill./Fremd HS), the 2009 MAC Gymnast of the Year, was injured during her floor routine. The reconfigured NIU line-up faltered on beam while the Flames came through with a 49.075 to claim the win by seven-tenths of a point.
NIU fell to 6-5 on the season and 0-4 on the road.
"I saw a lot of really good things, but we had too many misses, then we had to play around with the lineup again and it didn't pan out for us today," said NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag. "We weren't able to get where we needed to go. We had our best day on vault after a lot of work on that event during the week, and our bars were really good. We were ahead after the third rotation but we couldn't hang in there to get the win."
Sophomore Ashley Guerra (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg HS)continued her excellent season on uneven parallel bars as she tied her season-best score with a 9.825 to win the event. She added a 9.700 on balance beam to tie for third place on that event with teammate Sarah Hurley (Geneva, Ill./Community HS), who recorded her season-best beam score.
Hurley also tied her career-best score on vault with a 9.625, contributing to the Huskies season best 48.350 on the event. Senior Natalie Blum (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township HS) led the way as she scored a 9.800 to take second place on vault, tying her season high in the process. Tanya Rachan (Lowell, Ind./Hanover Central HS) scored a career best 9.675 on the event to tie for fourth with teammate Natalie Sutter (Barberton, Ohio/Coventry HS).
Blum also led the Huskies on floor exercise with a 9.800 to tie for third place while Sutter's 9.775 on floor represented her career best score and led to a tie for fifth place.
Two more Huskies tied their season high scores on uneven bars as Rachan took third place with a 9.750 and Jessica Watanabe (Palatine, Ill./Pala tine HS) scored a 9.650 to claim fourth place.
Saturday's result left Sontag and his team still searching for consistency.
"It has been incredibly tough to get ahead this year," Sontag said. "We work on one [event] and then something else lets down. We can't let down in areas that were working. We are correcting here and falling down what was working. I think the inconsistency in our line-up with different replacements all year is catching up to us a little bit. No one has really gotten solid work all year."
The Huskies will look for their first road victory of the season next Saturday when they travel to Ypsilanti, Mich. to take on Eastern Michigan.
-- NIU --
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