Beam team boosts NIU to second home win

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Reporter

DeKALB – NIU’s quartet of personal-best balance beam routines highlighted NIU gymnastics’ outing at Sunday’s tri-meet as the Huskies tumbled to their third win of the season.

NIU outscored its visitors, Illinois State University and Winona State University, with a season-best team score of 195.500. Five Huskies either set or tied a personal best score.

Sunday marked the second time in three days that NIU went up against Illinois State. The Huskies defeated the Redbirds in Friday’s dual meet in Bloomington.

Sophomore all-arounder Isabella Sissi led the Huskies on vault with a 9.825, tying her career-best. Junior Isabelle West contributed to NIU’s season-best vault score of 48.650 with 9.775, the same score she received in the event at Friday’s meet at ISU.

Senior bars specialist Natalie Hamp earned her third 9.9 of the season, once again tying her season-best score. 

“Each week I get that 9.9, it’s like a booster for me,” Hamp said. “I don’t try harder at a competition, but I do like to improve each week if I can.”

Junior Alyssa Al-Ashari set up Hamp’s routine with a 9.825 score of her own at the No. 5 spot in NIU’s lineup. Al-Ashari said a fall earlier in the lineup created pressure for the rest of the lineup to execute well on their routines.

“We had a fall earlier in the meet so that kind of puts a little more pressure throughout the rest of the lineup,” Al-Ashari said. “I just did exactly what I do in practice: took a breath and used my coaches’ cues throughout the routine to just hit it and set it up for Nat (Hamp).”

NIU found its most success of the meet on the balance beam. The Huskies’ beam group combined for a season-best 49.225 as the last squad to mount the wood. Three Huskies recorded career-best scores to sweep the beam podium.

Al-Ashari took first with a 9.925 from the lineup’s anchor spot. Leading into Al-Ashari’s routine, four of five routines resulted in scores of 9.8 or higher.

“Five people before me hit really good routines so there wasn’t much pressure on me so I could just go out there and do what I know how to do,” Al-Ashari said. “I do routines like that so much in practice so it was awesome to actually be able to do that.”

Sophomore Ellery Werner took second with a 9.850. West and senior Brooklyn Sears matched each other with 9.825s, good for third place. West’s score overtook her previous career-high dating back to her freshman year.

The Huskies’ squad ended the afternoon with the floor exercise. Sophomore Emmalise Nock was NIU’s top floor performer, finishing in a two-way tie with Illinois State senior Angelica Labat at 9.850. Lynd tacked on her personal best mark of 9.775 to the Huskies’ 48.700 floor score.

Up next

NIU will remain at home for its next meet as the squad prepares for the annual Beauty and the Beast event. Gymnastics will compete alongside NIU’s wrestling team in the Convocation Center arena.

“We love the atmosphere,” Head coach Sam Morreale said of the upcoming Beauty and the Beast event. “And for us, the more stuff that’s going on around us, the better, because it almost forces you to really focus more in, which is where we want to be anyway so it kind of pushes us in that direction.”

The competition will commence at 1 p.m. Saturday.