Jan. 8, 2010
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois women's gymnastics team opens its 2010 season Sunday as the Huskies play host to Wisconsin-La Crosse beginning at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center. The meet is the first of four home appearances for NIU in 2010, which is coming off an all-time best third-place finish at last year's MAC Championships, and returns nine letterwinners.
Tickets for the meet are on sale at the door and are priced at $5 for adults and $3 for youth with all Northern Illinois students admitted free with ID. In addition, any fan who brings a women's basketball ticket stub from Saturday's Northern Illinois-Ball State game can attend the gymnastics meet for just $1.
"This is a good first meet for us," said NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag, who enters his 11th season at the helm of the program in 2010. "We need to get out there, get our game faces on and do our routines in front of the judges. You can train and train and train, but at some point you don't make progress until you get out there, and that's where we are. We need someone different to see our routines."
Following the graduation of multi-event performers and NCAA Regional participants Jennifer Naughton and Leah Johnson, and missing 2009 MAC Gymnast of the Year Holly Reichard (Palatine, Ill./Fremd HS) who will sit out the meet due to injury, the Huskie line-up will have a new look in 2010. Sophomore Tanya Rachan (Lowell, Ind./Hanover Central HS) will compete in the all-around for NIU as she has secured a spot in all four events, while seniors Natalie Blum (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township HS) and Rachel Adams (Fruitport, Mich./Fruitport HS) are among four Northern Illinois gymnasts in three different events.
A pair of Huskie student-athletes will see action for the first time as freshman Natalie Sutter
(Barberton, Ohio/Coventry HS) and sophomore Tamara Murskyj
(Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg HS) will compete in the vault and floor exercise, and on uneven parallel bars, respectively.
Sontag said his goal for the first meet is for his team to put together "safe, clean, gymnastics," especially with some younger team members competing in more events than ever before.
"This team has really come together [during training]," Sontag said. "They are a very cohesive, team-oriented group and I'm excited to get the season started."
Following Sunday's meet, the Huskies return to action one week later as they open Mid-American Conference competition versus Western Michigan on Sunday, Jan. 17 in the Convocation Center.
-- NIU --
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