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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Gymnastics ties for third at Mizzou Invitational

Al-Ashari places fourth on beam
Mingda Wu
Then-junior gymnast Alyssa Al-Ashari poses during her beam routine in a home meet against Eastern Michigan University on Feb. 17, 2023. Al-Ashari placed fourth on beam at the Mizzou Invitational on Saturday. (Mingda Wu | Northern Star)

NIU gymnastics tumbled and stumbled to begin the new season after tying for last in its first showcase of 2024 and posting its worst team score in a season-opener since 2018.

The Huskies scored 192.755 as a team, tying with Southeast Missouri State University for third place at Saturday’s Mizzou Invitational in Columbia, Missouri. Meet host and 12th-ranked University of Missouri championed the meet at 197.150, sweeping the event titles along the way.

NIU gymnastics head coach Sam Morreale felt the meet was a solid starting point for the new season, but acknowledged there’s room for improvement moving forward.

“I don’t think we did how we do in practice, so we’ve got plenty of things to work on and fix,” Morreale said. “But overall, I thought it was a great first week.”

Senior Alyssa Al-Ashari led the way for NIU on uneven parallel bars and balance beam as the anchor on both events. Al-Ashari posted a 9.775 on bars before scoring a 9.850 on NIU’s final routine of the meet, scores she believes are the product of her practice habits successfully translating to competitions.

“I’ve been practicing like I competed tonight, so I was really excited about that,” Al-Ashari said. “It was bittersweet going into my last first meet but I’m really glad that I went out there and I hit two-for-two.”

Al-Ashari’s 9.850 beam score overtook junior Emmalise Nock for NIU’s highest score of the meet in any event. Nock received a 9.800 in the first rotation as the anchor on floor exercise.

In the second rotation, freshman Dawsyn Sallee recorded a team-best 9.775 on vault in her collegiate debut. Sallee was one of three freshmen, along with Isabella Ross and Mikayla Brown, to make their college debut Saturday.

“It was definitely very surreal,” Sallee said of her first college meet. “Very cool to finally get to do something I’ve been dreaming about doing.”

NIU advanced to bars in the third rotation, scoring 47.650. Sophomores Kiera O’Shea and Hannah Drielick were awarded with a 9.525 and 9.650, respectively. Al-Ashari made her season debut in the final spot on the lineup, producing a 9.775.

NIU’s beam team finished the night strong with a 48.450 in the meet’s final rotation. Senior Kendall George kicked off the event with a 9.675 before sophomore Samantha Nickle followed up with a 9.700 to match her career-high. Al-Ashari ended the night on a high note with her 9.850 to place fourth in the meet.

“Being able to go out there, in a bigger stadium than we’re usually at, in a really loud environment, knowing that I can hit then, it’s just skyrocketed my confidence for next week,” Al-Ashari said.

The Huskies will remain on the road as they visit MAC rival Bowling Green State University at 11 a.m. CT Saturday in Bowling Green, Ohio.

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