NIU GYMNASTICS FACES ROAD CHALLENGE AT KENT STATE

GO HUSKIES <em>Senior Natasha Jufko won the balance beam last Saturday against Western Michigan with a career-high score of 9.850</em>
GO HUSKIES
Senior Natasha Jufko won the balance beam last Saturday against Western Michigan with a career-high score of 9.850
GO HUSKIES

Feb. 6, 2014

DeKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois University women’s gymnastics team takes a 2-0 Mid-American Conference record, a deep line-up and an eye on improving its scores to Kent, Ohio where NIU will take on MAC gymnastics heavyweight Kent State Friday night at 6 p.m. (CT). 
 
The meet is KSU’s annual “Flip for the Cure” event.  Live scoring and live video is available through Kent State.
 
Live Stats – http://sidearmstats.com/kent/gymnastics/FlipForTheCure.htm
Live Video – http://www.mac-sports.com/Schools/KentState/LiveStreaming.aspx

NIU (2-1 overall, 2-0 MAC) has won back-to-back home meets versus league competition in the last two weeks, defeating Ball State 192.050-188.825 and Western Michigan, 192.450-191.600, following a season-opening loss at Nebraska.  
 
The Huskies used 15 different gymnasts versus Western Michigan, showing that the depth NIU Head Coach Sam Morreale touted at the beginning of the season is a reality. 
 
“The fact we used 15 different people speaks to the depth we’ve been trying to build in the program,” Morreale said.  “Everyone we are putting in line-up is able to produce similar scores.  Working with this team this year has been great.  It’s a close group, they get the team concept and the team aspect of what we are trying to do.  They are willing to put pride aside and do what’s best for the team.  They don’t get rattled or get negative when we make line-up changes. “
 
Morreale said the experience at No. 10 Nebraska earlier this season should help the Huskies in what is expected to be another loud atmosphere inside Kent State’s M.A.C. Center. 
 
“It’s a tough place to compete, a loud environment, but the experience at Nebraska should help us from that standpoint,” Morreale said.  “It’s going to be a big challenge.  Kent is the cream of the crop in the MAC in any given year so we have to bring our best.  For us, we’re just climbing the mountain trying to get better every week. We’re still waiting for that four event meet. If we can put a solid four events together we can put the pressure on them. We feel good.   We’ve had a great week of practice and we’re getting healthier every day.” 
 
Kent State (5-1 overall, 2-0 MAC) is ranked 25th in the country.  The Golden Flashes were idle last week.  They earned a season-best team score of 195.400 on January 19 in a home win over N.C. State.
 
NIU has been led by senior all-arounder Kim Gotlund, while sophomore Jaelyn Olsen is coming off of back-to-back solid performances on both vault and balance beam.  Senior Natasha Jufko collected the Huskies’ highest score on any event this season with a 9.850 to win beam last week at WMU. 
 
Morreale said is the Huskies bring the same routines from the practice gym to the competition floor and hit on every event, a team score in the upper 193 and 194 range is well within reach. 
 
“We’re in the clean-up phase on our routines to get some of the details that equal tenths (of points),” Morreale said.   “The key to us is to compete how we practice.  When we just swing and hit a routine in practice we are there.  We talk about keeping within themselves.  All the skills are there, we have to find a way not to press it…
 
After Friday night’s meet, NIU will next play host to Texas Woman’s and Iowa State in a non-conference tri-meet at the NIU Convocation Center on Sunday, Feb. 16.  Please note the time of this meet – which has been designated as NIU’s “Pink” Meet and will be held in the main bowl of the Convocation Center - HAS BEEN CHANGED to 1 p.m.  (CT).  In 2014, admission and parking for all home gymnastics meets is FREE.