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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Huskies finish third in Minnesota to close regular season

Anderson, Werner set new personal bests
Tim Dodge
Junior gymnast Isabella Sissi swings her arms out as she poses during her floor routine. Sissi returned to NIU’s lineup Sunday after missing the Huskies’ home finale on March 10. (Tim Dodge | Northern Star)

Junior Isabella Sissi had long dreamed of competing inside the Maturi Pavillion, the home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.

“I grew up watching the Gophers my entire childhood,” Sissi said.

On Sunday, the Blaine, Minnesota, native got to live out her dream. 

After missing NIU’s home finale March 10 with an illness, Sissi returned to the lineup to join junior and fellow Minnesota native Emmalise Nock as the two made their long-awaited homecoming. The pair of Minnesotans aided the Huskies to a third-place finish in their regular season finale at Maturi Pavillion in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

NIU (9-13-1, 1-5 MAC) compiled its second-best team score of the season of 195.875, falling short of No. 16 Minnesota (16-6, 6-3 B1G) and West Virginia University (8-15, 0-4 B12) while beating the United States Air Force Academy.

“We’ve been talking about putting that four-event day together, and that was today,” said NIU gymnastics head coach Sam Morreale. “We finally hit on all cylinders.”

Senior Alyssa Al-Ashari and junior Alana Anderson tied for third place on bars and floor, respectively. Sissi finished third in the all-around with a score of 39.225, matching her season-best mark.

Al-Ashari anchored the Huskies on bars in the first rotation with a score of 9.875 in her final regular season meet. Anderson’s 9.925 in the leadoff spot on floor in the third rotation set a new personal best, surpassing her previous high of 9.900.

Sunday’s meet also served as a homecoming for junior Ellery Werner – sort of. Werner, a Rhinelander, Wisconsin, native, trained at Twin City Twisters Gymnastics in Champlin, Minnesota, throughout high school.

Werner competed in the second spot on NIU’s beam lineup and earned her best-ever score as a college gymnast – a 9.900. Werner’s and NIU’s four other counting scores combined for an event total of 49.000.

“I think every girl dreams of a 9.900 or anything above,” Werner said. “So getting to achieve that, especially here where I kind of grew up, is just super surreal.”

The Huskies transitioned to the floor in the third rotation. All five of NIU’s counting scores were 9.800 or higher, producing a 49.300 – tied for the program’s seventh-best team floor score of all time.

NIU concluded the meet on vault, where freshman Dawsyn Sallee and sophomore Jocelyn Harbeck each scored 9.800 to grant the Huskies a 48.950 in the event.

“I think we all just pulled ourselves together as a team and really, collectively, did some of our best gymnastics today,” Sissi said. “Overall, I’m just super happy that I got to live out my childhood dream.”

With the regular season in the rearview mirror, the Huskies now look ahead to Saturday’s MAC Championships hosted by regular season co-champion Ball State University. The competition, featuring all seven MAC squads, is scheduled to commence at 1 p.m. CT inside Worthen Arena in Muncie, Indiana.

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