Huskies collar three top finishes, first road win at ISU

George sets career best on beam


Northern Star File Photo

Then-sophomore gymnast Kendall George completes her beam attempt during a dual meet against Illinois State University on Feb. 13 at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb, Ill. (Northern Star File Photo)

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Reporter

Upperclassmen paved the way for NIU gymnastics as juniors Kendall George, Isabelle West and senior Natalie Hamp earned first place finishes in Sunday’s dual meet

NIU edged Illinois State University in a 195.075-194.275 decision at CEFCU Arena in Bloomington-Normal. The Huskies earned their first road win of the season after dropping their past two meets at Iowa State University on Jan. 14 and Central Michigan University on Jan. 21.

“We actually looked more like us tonight,” said NIU gymnastics head coach Sam Morreale. “We were comfortable, we hit routines, kids had fun. This 195 range is where we feel like we should live.”

Best on beam

George scored a 9.850 on the balance beam in NIU’s final rotation. She beat her previous career-best of 9.800 from last season’s dual meet at Eastern Michigan University. George’s score made her part of a two-way tie for first place with Illinois State junior Madison Kipp.

“Starting off with a strong series for my tumbling on beam was really helpful because it just sets the mood for the rest of my tumbling to be straight,” George said. “Then the stick at the end was really special because it’s always nice to finish off the routine with a stick and a big salute.”

Starting strong

The Huskies began the meet on the uneven parallel bars. Hamp and junior Alyssa Al-Ashari claimed the event’s top two spots. Al-Ashari notched a 9.875 before Hamp stuck her landing in the final spot of the lineup to take home her second 9.9 of the season. Hamp walked off with the ‘stick crown’ on her head as the bars champion.

“That 9.9 is something she’s (Hamp) going to get a lot just because that’s the skill level she’s at as a senior,” Morreale said.

NIU followed up its bars results with a sweep of the vault podium. Three of the first four spots on the Huskies’ vault lineup produced the event’s three best scores. West’s 9.775 championed vault, followed by a pair of 9.75s from senior Ciara Ryan and freshman Kiera O’Shea.

NIU’s floor unit – a usual strong point for the team – was outperformed by its Redbird counterpart. Illinois State’s sophomores Sarah Wabi, Alana Laster and senior Angelica Labat tied for first on floor at 9.825. Behind the Redbird trio was a four-way tie for fourth that included NIU’s senior Jacklyn Doltisky and sophomore Alana Anderson, who went back-to-back with 9.8s to lead the Huskies.

Sophomore all-arounder Isabella Sissi experienced her lowest-scoring outing of the season with a 37.900. Her score was weighed down with 8.800 on bars in the first rotation.

Rematch soon, ISU?

NIU and ISU will see each other again later in the weekend. The Huskies will host Illinois State University and Winona State University for the NIU Tri-Meet. Competition begins at 2 p.m. Sunday at the NIU Convocation Center. All NIU gymnastics home meets are free to attend.