Men’s gymnasts fall short of expectations

By Kari Brackett

Inconsistency has given the NIU men’s gymnastics team problems all season, and it continued to plague the team at Saturday’s NCAA Mid-East Independent Championship meet at Illinois-Chicago.

The Huskies placed fourth in the seven-team event with a score of 268.05. NIU Coach Chuck Ehrlich said he was not pleased with his team’s effort. Ehrlich said he was hoping his team would score around 272 to raise the team’s average.

“There were some inconsistencies which I was not pleased with,” Ehrlich said. “I was not impressed with the team’s competition.”

Houston Baptist won the tournament with 281.40. Southern Illinois scored 279.60 to finish second, and Brigham Young rounded out the top three spots with 272.35.

NIU placed one gymnast in the all-around competition. Carlos Fulcher finished fourth in the final standings with a 56.30 showing. Houston’s Miguel Rubio won the top spot, scoring 57.75.

Three NIU gymnasts qualified in the preliminaries to advance to the finals which were held Saturday night. During the preliminary round, Carlos Fulcher tied for sixth on the pommel horse with a 9.45. He also scored 9.6 on the vault to give him a third-place tie.

“Vault felt much more comfortable for me,” Fulcher said. “Overall I believe I did pretty good except on the parallel bars where I had a miss.”

Erik Solky received a 9.65 on parallel bars, which gave him third place, and he tied for eighth place on the horizontal bar with a 9.45.

“His preliminary parallel bar score was a personal best,” Ehrlich said. “He did an excellent job and was definitely underscored.”

Gene Margiotta’s 9.6 third-place score gave him a tie on vault during preliminaries and allowed him to advance into the final round of competition.

The finals saw Fulcher take first place on the vault with a 9.2. Solky scored 8.75 on the parallel bars and 9.6 on the high bar. On vault, Gene Margiotta tallied 9.35.

“Margiotta did well on the vault during the final round,” Ehrlich said. “His score did not reflect his performance.”

Now that the team season is over with, Ehrlich is waiting to find out if any of his gymnasts will receive a bid for the NCAA National Championship in Los Angeles. Fulcher is hoping to qualify in the all-around. Ehrlich probably will not find out until next week.

“It is going to be a long wait,” Fulcher said. “I would feel much better if I qualify for all-around rather than just for an event.”

Ehrlich said he hoped the quality of the performers improves next year. He said there were some bright spots, but the team did not reach its potential.

“We averaged around 270, but we were capable of averaging around 272,” Ehrlich said.