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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Gymnastics take second at Beauty and the Beast meet

Al-Ashari wins bars, Sissi splits beam title
Totus Tuus Keely
Junior gymnast Isabella Sissi poses during her floor exercise routine at NIU gymnastics’ and wrestling’s Beauty and the Beast meet Friday. Sissi, an all-arounder, finished Friday’s quad meet with a total score of 39.100. (Totus Tuus Keely | Northern Star)

DeKALB – Following a disappointing start to its home meet schedule, NIU gymnastics has begun to find its footing with a runner-up finish at Friday’s Beauty and the Beast Meet at the NIU Convocation Center.

NIU (4-6-1, 1-2 MAC) finished second with a team score of 194.575, beating out the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Western Michigan University (10-1, 3-0 MAC) left DeKalb with the meet title and a team score of 195.350.

Senior Alyssa Al-Ashari and junior Isabella Sissi were among four Huskies to place in an event at the meet. Al-Ashari won the bars with a 9.850 on her anchoring routine.

“She’s a rock star; she truly is,” said NIU gymnastics head coach Sam Morreale of Al-Ashari. “She’s arguably one of the best kids I’ve ever trained, and we’ve had on our team.”

Later in the bars lineup, junior Natalia Kraus produced a 9.775 to finish in a four-way tie for third place. 

In the third rotation, Sissi split the meet’s beam title with Western Michigan graduate student Amanda Gruber and La Crosse freshman Raina Christenson, with all three scoring 9.800 on their respective routines. Sissi also finished second in the all-around with a 39.100.

The all-arounder’s routine in the No. 5 spot was one of the leading efforts in a resurgence by NIU’s beam team. After putting together one of the worst floor performances nearly two weeks ago, the Huskies compiled a total score of 48.475 on the event Friday – the best score by any team on the event.


Sophomore Kiera O’Shea earned a 9.850 while anchoring the Huskies on vault in the first rotation. However, her results from this meet had more meaning than any before.

In the downtime leading up to Friday’s meet, O’Shea was sidelined with an injury that threatened to end her season prematurely.

“It feels really good to get back out there and show everybody that I wasn’t out for the season,”O’Shea said.


NIU will have little time to rehash Friday’s results before embarking on its road trip to Kent State University Saturday. NIU will face its fifth MAC rival this season at noon CST Sunday when the Huskies begin competition against the Golden Flashes.

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