Al-Ashari collects MAC Specialist of the Week honor

NIU boasts weekly MAC honoree for second-straight week

By Northern Star Sports Staff

DeKALB – NIU junior gymnast Alyssa Al-Ashari has taken home Mid-American Conference Specialist of the Week honors – the second-straight Huskie to do so – after a career-best performance on uneven parallel bars during Saturday’s dual meet, the conference announced Tuesday.

The MAC Specialist of the Week is awarded to a gymnast that competes in one or two events. The winner is selected in a vote by the head gymnastics coaches around the MAC.

Al-Ashari finished solo first on bars after scoring 9.9 – setting a personal record – and shared the top spot on the balance beam leaderboard (9.825) as NIU narrowly fell to Iowa State University in the Chow’s Winter Classic in a 194.875-194.675 result.

Tuesday marked the second time Al-Ashari has earned MAC Specialist of the Week in her career. She was first recognized by the conference in February 2022 after scoring a career-high 9.925 on the balance beam during a dual meet against Illinois State University.

Ball State University junior Victoria Henry accompanied Al-Ashari on Tuesday’s list of weekly award winners. Henry was selected as MAC Gymnast of the Week after she notched the best all-around score in the league (9.175) for the weekend during Ball State’s outing at the Rutgers Quad Meet on Saturday.

Al-Ashari becomes the third NIU gymnast to take home weekly MAC honors this season. Senior bars specialist Natalie Hamp and sophomore all-arounder Isabella Sissi swept the slate of conference honors last week following the Huskies’ season-opening meet against Bowling Green State University. Hamp earned MAC Specialist of the Week after scoring NIU’s first 9.9 bars score of the new year. Sissi claimed MAC Gymnast of the Week with a career-best day in the all-around.

Al-Ashari and the Huskies head to Mount Pleasant, Michigan, for their head-to-head with 2022 MAC champion Central Michigan University on Saturday. The meet will commence at 1 p.m. CT in McGuirk Arena.