March 20, 2009
MUNCIE, Ind. - Northern Illinois University gymnasts Holly Reichard (Palatine, Ill./Palatine Fremd HS) and Jennifer Naughton (Smithville, Mo./Smithville HS) were selected as the Mid-American Conference Gymnast and Senior Gymnast of the Year, respectively, Friday night in Muncie, Ind. on the eve of the 2009 MAC Gymnastics Championships.
The award winners were selectd by the league coaches, who made Reichard the second Huskie gymnast to be honored by the MAC since the award began in 1997. NIU's Kristina Campos was named MAC Gymnast of the Year in 2003. Naughton is the first Northern Illinois student-athlete to win the MAC Senior Gymnast of the Year honor since that award began in 1990.
NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag was happy to see two of his most deserving gymnasts honored.
"Without a doubt, Holly is one of hardest working gymnasts I have ever seen," he said. "She expects a high level of performance from herself every day in the gym, and that's why she excels in the meets.
"Jen [Naughton] has done an amazing job for us and has probably been under-decorated. She's been such a great gymnast and performed at a high level over the years, so it was nice to see her recognized for what a great asset she's been to our program and to our conference."
Reichard is a two-time MAC Gymnast of the Week in 2009 who is the top-ranking gymnast in the league in the all-around with five scores of 39-plus on the season and six all-around titles this season. She also ranks in the top six in the MAC in every individual event and has achieved career highs in three of four events this season. As a freshman, she won the MAC title on the uneven parallel bars a year ago and earned first team all-MAC recognition.
Senior Jennifer Naughton is the top gymnast in the MAC on the beam this year and has been a four-year starter in three events in the NIU line-up.
Naughton, the reigning MAC Gymnast and MAC Scholar-Athlete of the Week, has competed on the vault, balance beam and floor exercise for Northern Illinois for the last four seasons. As a senior, Naughton is the top balance beam worker in the league as she averages over a 9.800 on the event. She earned a career high 9.925 on beam a week ago at the Illinois Classic to win the state title on beam and record the highest score by an NIU gymnast on any event this season.
Sontag said seeing Northern Illinois gymnasts earning the MAC's highest honors is a good sign for the program.
"With the seven very, very strong Division I teams that we have in the MAC, for our gymnasts to be recognized for their talent and accomplishments shows that as a program, we are moving in the right direction and doing the right things. It's certainly a sign of success and of a healthy program. "
The MAC Gymnastics Championships get underway at noon (Central) Saturday at Worthen Arena in Muncie, Ind. Fans can follow the action online on the Ball State website.
-- NIU --