HISTORY, HAS COMPANY AS HUSKIES SEND FOUR TO NCAA GYMNASTICS REGIONAL
the 2004 season, Northern Illinois University gymnastics coach Mark
Sontag has praised his team's depth as a way of overcoming several
key injuries. That extensive talent was recognized Monday (March
22) as a school-record four Huskies gained tickets to the NCAA South
Central Regional Gymnastics Championships.
Campos (Oak Park, MO / Gladstone) and senior Dannielle Dacey (Saskatoon,
Sask. / Marion M. Graham) compete in all-around action at the regional
summit, hosted by the University of Arizona on April 3. That's only
half the good news for Northern Illinois, though, as freshman Kelly
Kramer (Long Lake, MN / Benilde-St. Margaret's) and junior Katie
Willett (Hastings, NE / Adams Central) will compete on the vault
and uneven bars, respectively.
a bunch of people getting the job done this year. We were more than
a one-athlete show, so it's nice to see the program recognized the
way it was," Sontag said. "This really puts Northern Illinois
in the limelight, and I'm excited for the program and for its future."
Each of the
six regional meets includes six teams plus five all-around competitors
who are not on those teams, along with one individual event specialist
per event. The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors
not on those squads advance to the NCAA Championships, slated for
April 15-17 at Los Angeles, CA.
The South Central
regional field includes the University of Utah, the University of
Florida, the host Wildcats, the University of Arkansas, the University
of Illinois and the University of Illinois-Chicago. Joining the
four Northern Illinois entrants are Southeast Missouri State University
all-arounders Ashley Godwin and Tara Boldt plus Illinois State University
all-arounder Whitney Albright, along with event specialists Lisa
Klein of ISU (balance beam) and Alexis Traylor from SEMO (floor
this marks the third consecutive regionals appearance as the junior
becomes only the third Huskie to achieve that hat trick. The Oak
Park, MO, native joins Margaret Mroz (1993-95) in that group and
could match Martha Unger's four-peat (1987-88, 1990-91) next season.
And while she has been the lone NIU entrant in the past two years,
Campos has plenty of company this time around.
was excited for her teammates, too," Sontag said. "It's
a big meet and it can be lonely when you're there by yourself. Now
she's more excited to have her teammates with her. And it's nice
for Dannielle, because she had a great year, stepping up into an
all-around role the way she has. Kelly did a great job all year
as a freshman. Every time we put her up she got the job done, and
she's just going to continue to get better. With Katie, she's been
very consistent on bars and was a big part of our success this season."
a 39.127 average in the all-around, surpassing the 39 mark in eight
of 11 meets during the regular season including three totals of
39.400. One of those came during last Friday's Mid-American Conference
Championships, earning Campos Second-Team All-MAC honors. She boasts
rates of 9.732 or higher in all four events, including a 9.864 norm
on the floor exercise with three marks of 9.900 on that event plus
one on the uneven bars.
on the uneven bars for the past three seasons before joining the
regular line-up in the other three events this spring. She averaged
38.275 for a four-event score, highlighted by a career-best 38.950
tally on February 15. The Saskatchewan native posted a collegiate-best
9.900 on the bars that afternoon.
a stellar freshman campaign with a 9.925 on the vault at the MAC
Championships, matching the school record in the process while taking
a share of third place overall. Her 9.742 average is second only
to Campos (9.764) among Huskie competitors and includes five consecutive
efforts of 9.825 or better. Willett compiled a 9.657 average on
the uneven bars, capped by a pair of 9.875 performances earlier
this month. She posted marks of 9.625 or better in nine of 11 attempts
Illinois contingent could become a quintet, with sophomore Ashlee
Williams (Liberty, MO) slated as an alternate on the floor exercise.
She drew a career-best 9.900 at the MAC Championships, raising her
season average to 9.745 with her sixth consecutive performance of
9.800 or better. Williams would join the competition if Traylor
does not attend the meet.
NIU teams qualified
for regional action in 1991 and 1995, but had never had more than
two individual qualifiers in any other season. Sandy Menard is the
only Northern Illinois gymnast to advance to the national championships,
gaining that achievement in 1998.
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by Robert Hester