Jan. 25, 2013
DeKALB, Ill. - After consecutive come-from-behind home victories in its first two meets of the season, the Northern Illinois women's gymnastics team faces its first road test of 2013 when the Huskies take on Ball State Friday night at Irving Gym in the Ball State Student Recreation and Wellness Center.
Ball State offers free admission to the meet and will stream the event live, as well as offer live stats. Both links will be available prior to the meet here.
NIU is 2-0, 1-0 in the Mid-American Conference, with a season-best team score of 192.775. Ball State comes into the meet 1-2, 1-0 after upsetting No. 16 Central Michigan, the defending MAC champions, last week.
Northern Illinois Head Coach Sam Morreale said he was looking forward to taking the 2013 Huskies on the road.
"I kind of like [going on] the road," Morreale said. "I love being at home, but going on the road gives the team a chance to really come together. You're in a hostile environment, so it is us against them. It strengthens the support system we have for each other.
"In terms of competing, we shouldn't change what we're doing just because we're on the road. The only thing that changes is the order [of events]. On the road, you count on your juniors and seniors to show that you don't have to change what you do."
Northern Illinois has already seen four different gymnasts achieve 9.8 or higher scores on different events this year, with senior Marisa Liptak scoring a 9.850 on floor exercise for the top mark to date. Junior Natasha Jufko has gone 9.825 on balance beam in back-to-back meets while Megan Melendez added a 9.800 on beam versus Bowling Green a week ago. Freshman Jaelyn Olsen earned a 9.800 on vault to lead the Huskies on that event.
As a team, uneven parallel bars has been the Huskies' lowest scoring event through its first two meets, a trend Northern Illinois looks to end at Ball State.
"We want to repeat and improve on what we've done well in the first two meets, and we have to right the ship on bars," Morreale said. "The three events we did well, we did really well. We need to hit bars. We hit in training, but we've struggled in competition. We're not going to panic."
In its two victories, NIU has "not panicked", coming from behind to defeat both Illinois State and Bowling Green at home by performing well as a team on its final two events, the balance beam and floor exercise. Morreale knows the competition level will continue to improve with Ball State coming off a 194.500 team mark versus Central Michigan.
"Our goal is to go one for one on the next routine," Morreale said. "If everyone just goes one for one, then you could be the next one to start us. We've raised our expectations. We set it a 9.65s, but now we're chasing 9.7s everywhere. We did get some sticks [on landings] last week, but not close to our goal. I feel good about taking this team on the road, but Ball State is going to come in with a lot of confidence and we're going to have to bring our best."
-- NIU --
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