April 12, 2008
NORMAN, Okla. - Northern Illinois gymnasts Leah Johnson and Holly Reichard closed out the 2008 Huskie gymnastics season at the NCAA South Central Regional in Norman, Okla. Saturday where they each took part in the all-around competition.
Johnson, who started on vault and rotated with the team from Boise State, opened well, scoring a 9.725 on both the vault and the bars to place tied for 26th and tied for 24th, respectively, on those events. But the junior from Glenview, Ill. faltered on the balance beam and came away with an 8.900 on that event to spoil her bid for a spot at the NCAA Championships.
She rebounded on the floor exercise with her best score of the night, a 9.750, to finish tied for 23rd on that event. Her all-around total of 38.100 was good for 15th place in the regional.
Conversely, Reichard recorded her best single event score of the night on the balance beam with a 9.625, placing her 25th on that event. In her first appearance in NCAA Regional competition, the freshman from Palatine, Ill., also scored a 9.475 on the floor exercise, a 9.350 on bars and a 9.050 on vault for an all-around total of 37.500.
NIU Head Coach Mark Sontag said that the experience of competing at the regional will help not only Johnson and Reichard in the future, but the entire Huskie team.
"There is no substitute for being involved in something like this," Sontag said. "Leah and Holly are able to see what it's like at the next level, out there with the top teams in the country. They know that we can compete as a team at this level and they take that back to their teammates."
Despite some mistakes which kept the Huskies out of the top echelon of gymnasts Saturday, Sontag was extremely proud of his student-athletes.
"The competition was fantastic," Sontag said. "The girls represented the university well and did some great routines. They had a couple of misses here and there, but it is a tough environment and they handled it well."
Top-seeded Alabama and host Oklahoma garnered the team spots in the NCAA Championships while Illinois will send two all-arounders to Athens, Ga. to compete in the NCAAs.
-- NIU --