Feb. 20, 2014
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois University gymnastics team gets two opportunities to improve on its scores this weekend as the Huskies travel to Normal, Ill. for the 2014 State of Illinois Classic Friday and then journeys to Bowling Green, Ohio for a dual meet against the Bowling Green Falcons Sunday.
The State of Illinois Classic is an annual competition between NIU, Illinois, Illinois-Chicago and Illinois State, the four Division I women's gymnastics teams in the state. This year's meet will be held at Redbird Arena beginning at 7 p.m.
Live video streaming (ISU emphasis, subscription required) of the meet will be available or follow @NIUscores on Twitter for scoring updates.
"The State Meet is a competition but it's a friendly competition," said NIU Head Coach Sam Morreale. "So many of the gymnasts know each other, they went to the same clubs, and competed with and against each other as juniors. There is a lot of camaraderie and that's the fun aspect of the meet. From a competitive standpoint, you see where you stack up against the other teams in the state and you certainly get some bragging rights."
NIU (4-3, 2-1 MAC) will show up to Normal confident after last weekend's Pink Meet where they achieved a season high team score of 193.825 while finishing second in the four-team competition. They placed second of four teams, defeating Iowa State and Wisconsin-Whitewater, but coming up short against Texas Woman's by just 0.05. Morreale said the close loss has made every NIU gymnast look closely at correcting every detail in her routine.
"The close loss last week really drove the point home that we need everybody and every tenth," Morreale said. "If anybody who didn't stick a landing had taken one less step we would have won that meet, so it's really forced everyone to take ownership. It's reinforced what we've been saying that everyone must carry the weight together. I expect them all to step up this week."
The Huskies' got top performances last week from Bloomington native Peyton Taylor
(Normal University HS), who posted a season high score of 9.8 on floor, while sophomore Jaelyn Olsen
(Bethany, Okla./Putnam City West won the vault title for the third time this season and set her career high on beam with a 9.75. Senior Kim Gotlund
(Wadsworth, Illl/Warren Township HS) won the all-around at the Pink Meet with a 38.750 that included a 9.775 on floor exercise.
Illinois (4-3, 2-3 Big 10) enters the meet ranked 14th nationally and is coming into the State of Illinois Classic on a high note after earning a season best 196.500 last Saturday against Penn State. UIC (4-10) is coming off a 193.175-193.100 victory over Texas Woman's Friday with a season-high team total of 193.475. ISU (2-9) will host the meet after losses last weekend to Lindenwood and Missouri. The Redbirds have a season-best team total of 191.800.
Bowling Green (6-5, 3-1 MAC) is enjoying one of that program's top seasons with an average score of 193.896 in 2014. The Falcons are coming off a split at a tri-meet with Maryland and Yale last weekend and have a season-best score of 195.550.
"Bowling Green is very solid," Morreale said. "They are undefeated in the MAC right now. They have four all-arounders and are a talented, well-coached team."
Morreale said while having two meets in a single weekend is not the ordinary format, the team enjoys competition more than practice and the staff has adjusted the practice schedule this week.
"We definitely tried to back off [taking] a big number of reps in practice this week," he said. "We tried to go for quality over quantity. We're not concerned about two meets in one weekend because physically it is easier to compete than it is to practice. My experience with two meet weekends has been positive.
"Neither of these meets is more important than the other. Every score is important right now [for regional rankings]. Whatever we score Friday we want to move forward and score better on Sunday."
A link to live scoring from the meet at Bowling Green will be available on the Falcons' website.
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