Jan. 21, 2011
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois gymnastics team completes a two-week homestand when it plays host to Mid-American Conference foe Bowling Green Sunday at 1 p.m. [Central] in the NIU Convocation Center's Victor E. Court.
The meet can be watched live online at www.NIUHuskies.com through the Huskie All Access program. Cost is $6.95 for a one-month subscription or $49.95 for an annual pass.
The Huskies (0-3 overall, 0-1 MAC) are looking for their first win of the season after falling to a pair of ranked teams in the opener and losing to Eastern Michigan last Sunday. In that meet, NIU had a pair of gymnasts go down on the first event - the vault, causing the Huskies to juggle a line-up already missing all-arounder Tanya Rachan (Lowell, Ind./Hanover Central HS).
Rachan could return to action this weekend, and NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag said he likes what he has seen in the practice gym this week.
"We've had a good week of training," Sontag said. "We are short on bodies, but the bodies that are still in the line-up had a good week. We are going to be competitive if we do what we are capable of doing. We have made competing a focus this week. We have worked on how to compete. We know we have the gymnastics. In practice, the skills are there, they are strong. It is not a matter of being prepared physically. We have to take it from the practice gym to the competition floor."
Northern Illinois has been led by senior all-arounder Holly Reichard (Palatine, Ill./Fremd HS) and junior Ashley Guerra (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg), with sophomores Marisa Liptak (Kendall Park, N.J./Hanover Central) and Natalie Sutter (Barberton, Ohio/Coventry) also coming off of solid performances versus Eastern Michigan. Reichard scored a 9.750 on balance beam and a 9.700 on floor exercise a week ago to win both of those events, while Guerra has paced NIU on the uneven parallel bars in the Huskies' two meets this season. Liptak scored her career highs on both balance beam (9.525) and floor exercise (9.675) last week.
"We had a lot that went right in these past two meets," Sontag said. "We have a deep, dedicated, strong, focused team. We are going to walk in undermanned [Sunday], but we have talented people that can step up and get the job done. We had a great preseason, we have the gymnastics and we have to go out and perform when it counts."
With a shallower "bench" and less margin for injury, Sontag said the focus during training this week has been on hitting the routines and fixing the small errors that affect scores.
"We've worked a lot this week on cleaning up our routines, fixing the things we can fix and doing them well," Sontag said. "With how short-handed we are, we aren't as concerned about trying new things [this meet]. We've tried to concentrate on hitting our routines. All of our goals are still in play. Everything we want to do this season is attainable. Everyone is working hard and giving 100 percent. From what I've seen in the gym this week, I expect us to have a great meet."
While the gymnastics team meets Bowling Green, the NIU women's basketball team will face Miami (Ohio) in the main bowl of the arena beginning at Noon. One ticket will be good for both events and any fan who purchases a ticket to Sunday's gymnastics meet can watch the women's basketball game from a seat in the upper bowl of the arena.