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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Huskies drop EMU rematch despite strong finish

Anderson, O’Shea earn top event placements
Steve King
NIU freshman gymnast Dawsyn Sallee salutes at the end of her vault routine during the second rotation of NIU’s road meet against Eastern Michigan University on Sunday inside the George Gervin GameAbove Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Sallee scored a 9.850 in the fourth spot of the Huskies’ vault lineup to match her personal best in the event. (Steve King | EMU Athletics)

Six NIU gymnasts placed on their respective events Sunday as the Huskies took a second crack at a MAC foe in enemy territory.

Despite their efforts, NIU’s gymnastics squad failed to overcome Eastern Michigan University at Sunday’s MAC meet inside the George Gervin GameAbove Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

The Huskies (4-8-1, 1-4 MAC) chased a season-worst bars score of 47.600 in the opening rotation with scores of 49.100 (vault), 48.900 (floor) and 49.000 (beam), only to succumb to the Eagles (7-4, 2-2 MAC) for the second time this season. EMU came away with the 195.525-194.600 victory at its “Senior Meet” honoring six seniors and two graduate students.


NIU’s worst bars performance since 2020 during the meet’s first rotation put the Huskies behind the ball from the start.

“I feel like we were more ready through our practice meet than we actually came out and got started today,” said NIU gymnastics head coach Sam Morreale. “I think it took us that first event – bars – to kind of get settled into the meet.”

Senior Alyssa Al-Ashari was the only Huskie to crack 9.800 as the team’s five counting scores totaled 47.600 – a 1.500 regression from their last time out.

“I think maybe, we got a little ahead of ourselves, or tried a little too hard to be perfect,” Al-Ashari said. “I think we need to settle in a little bit better and take it one skill at a time.”


NIU sophomore gymnast Kiera O’Shea executes her vault routine during the second rotation of Sunday’s MAC meet against Eastern Michigan University at the George Gervin GameAbove Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan. O’Shea scored a 9.900 as the Huskies’ vault anchor to take first in the event. (Steve King | EMU Athletics)

The team clad in cardinal and black bounced back in the second rotation with their second-best vault performance of the year. Only one Huskie had a counting score below 9.800 as NIU produced a 49.100 and all three of the event’s top finishers.

“Following a not-so-great event can be difficult, and it’s really easy to build off of that negative energy, but they turned it around,” Al-Ashari said. 

Al-Ashari shined from her anchor spot on bars, scoring a 9.800 to take second in the event. The Lansing, Michigan, native also tied for second on beam with a 9.850 in her final routine in her home state.

Sophomore Kiera O’Shea won the vault with a score of 9.900, matching her personal best. Freshman Dawsyn Sallee trailed with a 9.850. Sallee’s score also tied for her career-high while having more significance than her past outings.

“(My routine) definitely felt like one of my best ones so far,” Sallee said. “I feel like I’m building, and I’m almost there to the top.”

Junior Isabella Sissi rounded out the vault podium with her score of 9.825. Sissi followed that up with a 9.850 on beam in the final rotation to share second place with Al-Ashari and EMU senior Raisa Boris. Sissi also finished second to Boris in the all-around with her second-best all-around score this season of 39.150.

Junior Alana Anderson tied for first place on floor after scoring 9.850 as NIU’s leadoff. Anderson held sole possession of first place before Boris matched her score on EMU’s final routine, forcing a split of the event crown. Freshman Mikayla Brown added on a 9.800 to walk away with third place.


Sunday’s loss sank the Huskies to 1-4 in MAC competition, their lone win coming against conference bottom-feeder Bowling Green State University on Jan. 13.

“The beauty of this sport is the wins and losses from that standpoint are irrelevant,” Morreale said. “It’s all about the scores; It’s all about climbing that ladder.”

With NIU holding the second-worst standing in the MAC, and facing a schedule that only gets more ruthless heading into March, Morreale made a plea on behalf of his squad.

“Just don’t give up on us yet,” Morreale said.

The Huskies will end their two-meet road spell against MAC opponents when they return home to host Illinois State University, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and the University of Alaska Anchorage for a quad meet at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Convocation Center.

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