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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Huskies explode with team-record scoring in ‘meet of the year’

Eight set new personal bests in runner-up finish
Dena Martz
NIU sophomore Kiera O’Shea strikes a pose during her floor exercise routine at a Jan. 13 meet against Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. O’Shea scored a 9.900 on vault, a score that is tied for the fourth-best in program history. (Courtesy of Dena Martz)

NIU gymnastics found its rhythm Friday after putting together one of the greatest performances in team history: multiple season-highs, even more personal bests, three podium finishes, and a new program record.

Eight Huskies achieved personal bests and five more earned season-highs as NIU (2-3-1, 1-0 MAC) scored a program-best 196.400 in the first session of the Tennessee Collegiate Classic in Lebanon, Tennessee. The Huskies finished second to Lindenwood University’s (5-1) 197.075 and ahead of Fisk University’s (1-4) 193.400.

“I was super impressed with this group today,” said NIU gymnastics head coach Sam Morreale. “We did not have the best warm-up on a few of the events, and this group stayed together, stayed on track, trusted what we coaches were telling them, trusted themselves and, honestly, had the meet of the year.”

After two meets with having an athlete crack 9.900, NIU had three Huskies score achieve that feat or exceed it. Senior Alyssa Al-Ashari won the bars with a 9.925 – the highest score by a Huskie this season – as NIU’s anchor. Sophomore Kiera O’Shea placed second on the vault with a 9.900, tied for the fourth-best mark in program history. O’Shea also set a career-high on bars with a 9.775 at the leadoff spot. 

Freshman Dawsyn Sallee finished the meet with a 9.925 floor score to place second  – her first event placement as a college athlete.

“It feels amazing,” Sallee said. “It definitely was one of the biggest goals I had going into college, to help my team.”

Junior Isabella Sissi placed third in the all-around with a 39.225 after recording season-highs on all four events. Sissi returned to all-around status Friday after missing the Mizzou Invitational and competing in only two events at Saturday’s meet against Bowling Green State University.

Sallee was just one of three freshmen to break their scoring ceiling Friday. Isabella Ross set new personal bests with her routines on beam (9.725) and floor (9.850), and Mikayla Brown achieved a 9.750 on bars.

Sophomore Hannah Drielick and junior Emmalise Nock also set new career-highs on bars with a 9.825 and a 9.650, respectively.

NIU put an exclamation point on its performance in the final rotation with five counting scores of 9.800 or higher on floor – good for a total event score of 49.475, eighth-best in team history.

The Huskies’ eruption comes at an opportune time as they prepare to make their long-awaited return home next week.

“It’s definitely a confidence booster for the whole team after today,” O’Shea said. “And I think bringing it home, it’s going to be so much easier because we’ll have all of our fans, everyone together at home. It’s more of a comfortable place, so it’ll definitely keep the rise going.”

NIU will host MAC rivals Central Michigan University and Eastern Michigan University at 2 p.m. Jan. 28 in the Convocation Center.

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