Gardina claims fifth in all-around but Huskies struggle on bars at Illinois quadrangular



January 17, 2003

WOMEN'S COLLEGIATE GYMNASTICS --- Northern Illinois University vs. University of Illinois, Ball State University, Auburn University / at Champaign, IL / UI's Huff Hall / Non-Conference Quadrangular Meet / Friday / January 17, 2003

ILLINOIS 194.925, AUBURN 193.975, BALL STATE 191.575, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 189.600


CHAMPAIGN, IL---Through three events Friday (Jan. 17), the Northern Illinois University women's gymnastics team appeared to be on its way to another strong performance. Then the roof caved in on the Huskies, as difficulty on the uneven bars led to NIU's downfall and a fourth-place showing at the Illini Quadrangular.

Northern Illinois entered the final rotation with a 143.925 tally but a four falls and a 45.675 score on bars relegated coach Mark Sontag's squad to a 189.600 finish. Host school University of Illinois won the team title with a lofty 194.925 performance, just ahead of Auburn University's 193.975 composite. Ball State University took third at 191.575.

"I'm really pleased with the three events leading up to bars," Sontag noted. "We were in a good spot and given the circumstances we would have beaten Ball State had we stayed on the bars, but it was a bad time for us to miss."

Seniors Anna Gardina (Gahanna, OH / Lincoln) and Kristie Woodin (Lake in the Hills / Algonquin Jacobs) provided the highlights for NIU, with Gardina finishing fifth in the all-around at 38.850. The Ohio native shared third spot on floor exercise with a 9.900 routine---which was matched by sophomore teammate Kristina Campos (Gladstone, MO / Oak Park)---and added a 9.725 score on vault. Woodin claimed a share of second place with her 9.775 performance on vault, just 0.025 behind Auburn's Hannah Littrell.

"Anna really shined for us," Sontag said. "She made it to the NCAA meet her sophomore year and she looks better now than she did then. She sat out last year with an ankle injury, but is it top form. She's a good leader for our girls to follow."

Auburn's Kayce Stein captured the all-around title with a 39.050 composite and also won the balance beam crown with her 9.850 routine. Tiger teammates Mary Nell Pate and Courtney Puckett shared the floor exercise title at 9.925 while UI's Ashley Williams claimed the blue ribbon on bars with her 9.850.

The Huskies were without senior Tiffany Nolen (Woodstock, GA / Seqyouah), who was declared academically ineligible for insufficient progress after changing her major. In her absence, freshman Ashlee Williams (Liberty, MO) produced a 9.625 on floor plus a 9.375 score on the vault.

"We had some people who had to cover for others and they really stepped up," Sontag noted. "Ashlee did a great job on floor, hit with a new vault routine and had another great beam set for us. Katie Willett (Hastings, NE / Adams Central) took lead position on bars and hit a set. It wasn't quite the degree of difficulty we were looking for, but she was one of the only ones to hit."

The Huskies get another look at Ball State next Friday (Jan. 24) when BSU hosts the seven-team Cardinal Classic. The 7 p.m. meet serves as NIU's Mid-American Conference dual with Ball State, while the field also includes Central Michigan University and Southeast Missouri State University.

-30- -- Copy by Robert Hester

VAULT: 1---Hannah Littrell (AU), 9.800; 2---(TIE)---Kristie Woodin (NIU), Courtney Puckett (AU), 9.775; 4---(TIE)---Jessica Cole (UI), Quiana Williams (BSU), 9.750. Other NIU scores: Anna Gardina, 9.725; Kristina Campos, 9.675; Laura Hale, 9.625; Heather Marti, 9.500; Ashlee Williams, 9.625. Team scores: AU 48.700, NIU 48.300, UI 48.225, BSU 47.725.

UNEVEN PARALLEL BARS: 1---Ashley Williams (UI), 9.850; 2---Kara Kapernekas (UI), 9.825; 3---(TIE)---Natica Johnson (AU), Karen Hawley (UI), Katie Wild (UI), 9.775. NIU scores: Anna Gardina, 9.650; Katie Willett, 9.200; Ashlee Williams, 8.975; Kristina Campos, 8.950; Lisanna Goldschen, 8.900; Laura Hale, 8.725. Team scores: UI 48.950, AU 48.125, BSU 47.300, NIU 45.675.

BALANCE BEAM: 1---Kayce Stein (AU), 9.850; 2---(TIE)---Cheryl Lancaster (AU), Ashley Williams (UI), 9.825; 4---(TIE)---Courtney Puckett (AU), Amy Bodus (BSU), 9.775. NIU scores: Kristina Campos, 9.650; Anna Gardina, 9.575; Crystal Flondor, 9.525; Ashlee Williams, 9.425; Laura Hale, 9.125; Mariah Howard, 8.800. Team scores: UI 48.775, AU 47.825, BSU 47.800, NIU 47.300.

FLOOR EXERCISE: 1---(TIE)---Courtney Puckett (AU), Mary Nell Pate (AU), 9.925; 3---(TIE)---Kristina Campos (NIU), Anna Gardina (NIU), 9.900; 5---(TIE)---Kara Kapernekas (UI), Ashley Williams (UI), 9.875. Other NIU scores: Kristie Woodin, 9.725; Ashlee Williams, 9.625; Laura Hale, 9.175; Keri Saint, 8.925. Team scores: AU 49.325, UI 48.975, BSU 48.750, NIU 48.325.

ALL-AROUND: 1---Kayce Stein (AU), 39.050; 2---Kara Kapernekas (UI), 39.025; 3---Jessica Cole (UI), 38.975; 4---Courtney Puckett (AU), 38.950; 5---Anna Gardina (NIU), 38.850. Other NIU scores: Kristina Campos, 38.175; Ashlee Williams, 37.400; Laura Hale, 36.650.

RECORD TO DATE: Northern Illinois now 1-3-0 on the season
NEXT HUSKIE MEET: Friday / Jan. 24 --- NIU at Ball State University Cardinal Classic, 7 p.m.



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