NIU Gymnastics Plays Host to Central Michigan in Home Finale

GO HUSKIES 2010 NIU Gymnastics Seniors Rachel Adams, Natalie Blum and Ashley Hurley
2010 NIU Gymnastics Seniors Rachel Adams, Natalie Blum and Ashley Hurley

Feb. 26, 2010

DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois will honor the three senior members of its 2010 gymnastics team and promote breast cancer awareness Sunday as the Huskies host their final home meet of the 2010 season at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, members of the campus group Colleges Against Cancer will be at the meet with information material on breast cancer awareness and prevention and will also be accepting donations for the American Cancer Society. Prizes have been donated and will be raffled off with proceeds donated to the American Cancer Society through Colleges Against Cancer.

The meet will be held on the main floor of the Convocation Center beginning at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for youth. NIU fans who bring a ticket stub from Saturday's Huskie women's basketball game versus Eastern Michigan will receive $1 admission.

Seniors Natalie Blum (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township HS), Rachel Adams (Fruitport, Mich./Fruitport HS) and Ashley Hurley (Geneva, Ill./Geneva Community HS) will compete in front of the home crowd for the last time in their career. Blum, a 2007 NCAA Regional qualifier, is having her best season in 2010, having recorded Northern Illinois' highest scores of the season on vault and floor exercise. Adams has missed much of the year with a sprained ankle but returned to the line-up on balance beam for the first time a week ago at Kent State. Hurley has been a regular in the NIU line-up on floor exercise in 2010 and achieved her career best score of 9.625 last week at Kent State.

"What a great class, it's nice to see all three of them up there and competing for us this season again," said NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag. "Every time we graduate another class, it's bittersweet because I hate to see them go but on the other hand, it's exciting to see them leave NIU with a degree and go on to success. To start competing in gymnastics starting at age 9, make it to a college team and experience four years here is a long career in a demanding sport. I'm proud of each of them and what they have accomplished during their careers, but we're certainly not done yet this season."



The Huskies (6-3, 2-2 MAC) will be looking to raise their team score for the seventh straight meet and crack the 193 mark for the first time this season. Central Michigan (8-2, 2-1) is one of the preseason Mid-American Conference favorites.

"It doesn't matter who is across the floor, we're going out there to better ourselves," Sontag said. "We're the only ones who can do anything about what we're doing. Our goal is to focus on ourselves and go 24 for 24 [on our routines]. Our routines are solid; we are getting deeper, finding the right chemistry, putting people in the right lineup position and trying to go with who is hot that day. It's an interesting time, we are almost redefining the team a little bit as we get closer to championships."

That redefining has been made necessary by early season injuries which limited NIU's depth. Now that gymnasts like Adams, Reichard and freshman Marisa Liptak are once again competing for line-up spots, the decisions of who competes on a certain day are harder and harder to make.

"Not only do we have a lot of people stepping up, we have people getting more time under their belts and improving," Sontag said.

The Huskies have not competed at home in nearly a month, since January 31, and the team has looked forward to returning to the Convocation Center.

"It's great to be home, we have the greatest fans in the conference," Sontag said. "The team feels best here. So many are from the Chicagoland area, we have friends and supporters, young fans. It's a lot of fun, we always look forward to being at home."

Following Sunday' meet, the Huskies take on state rival Illinois-Chicago in a dual meet on Saturday, March 6 at 5 p.m. in the P.E. Building on the UIC campus.

-- NIU --

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