March 3, 2012
DeKALB, Ill. - The Northern Illinois women's gymnastics team takes on Illinois State Sunday in Normal, Ill. in its final dual meet of the 2012 season with a long list of goals.
NIU head coach Sam Morreale would like to see the Huskies re-establish the consistency he saw several meets ago at Bowling Green, continue to improve its Regional Qualifying Score by putting up a number in the 194 range and put another notch in the win column. Sunday's meet will be streamed live at the official athletics website of Illinois State at goredbirds.com beginning at 2 p.m.
"This is our last dual and then it's a three-meet sprint to the end," Morreale said. "The goal is to find consistency and become consistent in our hits. We slid a little bit the last two weeks, admittedly against two of the best teams in the MAC.
"We've been trying to stress to the team that this is not us against Illinois State, this is about us trying to attain our goals. If we attain our goals then the wins will come. We want to get back in the win column in this last dual meet, but if we get a 192 and win, it doesn't help us as much as a 194 and a loss."
Northern Illinois (3-5, 2-3 MAC) is coming off its three top performances of the season, paced by a 194.775 total score at Bowling Green that ranks as the seventh-best in school history. NIU followed that with a 193.625 at Kent State and topped that mark with a 193.925 last week at home versus Central Michigan.
The Huskies have been led by seniors Tanya Rachan, Shonda Clore and Ashley Guerra. Rachan ranks tied for 12th in the region on floor exercise with seven of eight routines earning scores of 9.800 or higher. Clore and Rachan are the Northern Illinois leaders on vault, while Clore and Guerra rank 1-2 on uneven parallel bars. All three are in the Huskies' top four on balance beam where sophomore Megan Melendez leads the way with a 9.665 average.
Illinois State is one of four teams Northern Illinois will see again in two weeks at the State of Illinois Championships. Following Sunday's dual with the Redbirds, NIU will travel to Eastern Michigan for the EMU Eagle Invitational, a quad meet, next Saturday, March 10.
"Illinois State is an instate rival and it's good to get a chance to see them before the state meet," Morreale said. "It should be a good measuring stick for us. Based on the scores, the teams are very comparable. We are in the stretch run and there are no off weeks."
NIU will host the 2012 Mid-American Conference Gymnastics Championship on Saturday, March 24 at 2 p.m. in the NIU Convocation Center. All seven MAC gymnastics teams will compete for the title. Tickets will be available at the door. Watch for more information on the Championships at mac-sports.com and NIUHuskies.com.
-- NIU -
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