March 21, 2009
Final Meet Results in PDF Format
MUNCIE, Ind. -- Northern Illinois got outstanding performances from sophomore Holly Reichard (Palatine, Ill./Palatine Fremd HS) and senior Jennifer Naughton (Smithville, Mo./Smithville HS) to take home a third place finish in the 2009 Mid-American Conference Gymnastics Championships Saturday in Muncie, Ind. The finish ties for NIU's highest-ever at the event.
The Huskies finished with a team score of 192.700 to out-distance fourth-place Bowling Green, which scored 192.425. Favored Kent State claimed the team title with a 194.500, defeating second-place Central Michigan (194.375) by just .125.
"Overall, it was not bad, but not great, not quite where we wanted to be" said NIU head coach Mark Sontag. "Our expectations are higher these days. Even though we tied for our best finish, we're at the point where we expect more."
Northern Illinois started the meet well, tying its team season-best on vault with a 48.875. Reichard and Naughton tied for fourth on the event as they each scored 9.825, while Natalie Blum (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township HS) added a 9.800 and senior Leah Johnson (Glenview, Ill./Glenbrook South HS0 recorded a 9.775.
NIU also enjoyed success on the event it has dominated this season, the balance beam, as they had the top team score of the day on the beam with a 48.100. Reichard and Naughton scored matching 9.800s to claim the MAC title on the event and are the first Huskies to win the MAC balance beam title since Alisha Conahan at the 1998 MAC Championships. Freshman Shonda Clore (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northview HS) tied for third on beam with a 9.750 in her second meet back from injury.
"Jen Naughton has been hunting that [beam] title for a long time, so it was nice to see her get it," Sontag said. "Not being an all-arounder, sometimes she doesn't get the accolades that she deserves. She's had three misses her entire college career - one of those on beam last year at this meet -- and that's something you don't forget. I know she really wanted to erase that."
Both Reichard and Naughton, who were named the MAC Gymnast of the Year and Senior Gymnast of the Year, respectively, Friday by league coaches, earned first-team all-league honors Saturday. It marks the first time since 1998 that Northern Illinois has had two first team selections in the same season.
Reichard was the runner-up in the all-around competition with her second-highest all-around total of the season at 39.250 and was the only gymnast in the competition to finish in the top five of all four events. She placed third on uneven parallel bars and was fifth on floor exercise, scoring 9.825 on each event, to go with her first-place beam routine and fourth-place finish on vault.
"Holly showed exactly why she was voted Gymnast of the Year," Sontag said. "People recognize someone who excels at every aspect of the sport, starting with training. She showed why she is the best gymnast in the conference."
Naughton also placed fifth on floor exercise.
The MAC Championships marks the end of the team competition season for the Huskies but Naughton and Reichard are expected to qualify for NCAA Regionals as individuals. The NCAA regional bids will be released later this week and the NCAA South Central Regional will be held April 4, 2009 in Fayetteville, Ark.
-- NIU --