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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Gymnastics eyes bounceback at Bowling Green

Huskies head east for first MAC meet
Cheyanne Quintanilla
Then-sophomore gymnast Isabella Sissi completes her floor performance at the Huskies’ Beauty and the Beast meet at the NIU Convocation Center on Feb. 4, 2023. Sissi and the Huskies are set to face Bowling Green State University on Saturday. (Cheyanne Quintanilla | Northern Star)

DeKALB – After a lackluster start to a campaign with MAC Championship aspirations, NIU gymnastics looks to bounce back heading into its second test of the season.

NIU (0-2-1) will make the eastward trek to Bowling Green, Ohio, for a dual meet with MAC foe Bowling Green State University (0-1) Saturday at the Stroh Center.

Although NIU won’t be performing on the stage of a blue-blood program like it did mere days ago, head coach Sam Morreale believes the impact of the upcoming meet on the Huskies’ title-winning hopes will keep them at focus.

“The lights are different, but I feel like they’re still shining on us,” Morreale said. “It doesn’t necessarily get easier for us because it’s an in-conference meet now, so it means more from that standpoint.”

NIU remains in search of its first win of 2024 after tying for third place at the Mizzou Invitational on Saturday. The Huskies posted their worst team score in a season-opener in six years, scoring a 192.775.

“Obviously, that first meet left a bit of a bad taste in our mouth,” Morreale said. “So it’s good to get back out on the road and, if nothing else, just get back to competing.”

Junior Isabella Sissi’s status for Saturday’s meet remains unknown after she missed the Mizzou Invitational with an illness.

“I don’t know that she’ll be back this week,” Morreale said of Sissi. “I feel like we’ll have the same lineup and same roster we had that first weekend.”

Sissi, who was slated to be NIU’s lone all-arounder to start the season, fell sick the night before the team’s scheduled travel to Missouri on Jan. 4. The team has not issued a timeline for her return to the lineup.


On the opposing side of Saturday’s intra-conference clash, Bowling Green looks to defend home after coming up short in Sunday’s season opener against Illinois State University. Sophomore Isabella Rivelli won the uneven parallel bars title and junior Kathryn Weilbacher took home the meet’s all-around crown in the Falcons’ 195.950-192.975 defeat.

NIU won the latest meeting between the two squads in last year’s season and home opener on Jan. 8, 2023. The Huskies championed all four events and the all-around en route to a 194.725-192.675 victory in DeKalb.

Looking to recreate that result this weekend, Morreale said his athletes are out to prove that last week’s debut performance isn’t their standard.

“The girls are super excited to get out there,” Morreale said. “Obviously, they weren’t embarrassed, but they know that’s not them from last week, and they definitely want a chance to show who they are.”

Competition begins at 11 a.m. CT Saturday at the Stroh Center in Bowling Green, Ohio. The meet will be livestreamed on the WBGU-PBS YouTube channel.

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