Women gymnasts end with loss at Minnesota

Closing the season against one of the nation’s top 20 teams might not be always a good ending to a campaign, but the NIU women’s gymnastics team came away with high hopes for next year.

The Huskies lost 183.75-174.35 to Minnesota to close out their season at 9-5. The Gophers were ranked 17th in the nation.

“This was a pretty good ending to the year,” said NIU Coach Bobbie Cesarek. “The pressure was off because it was the last meet, and the kids really went out and performed well. We did our best with five kids and had a very pleasant time. This was by far the friendliest and nicest place we’ve competed all year.”

An Achilles’ heel for the Huskies all season has been the balance beam event. One NIU gymnast in particular the event has hampered is regional qualifying hopeful Martha Unger. A freshman, Unger is among the top 20 all-arounders in the Midwest and came closer to making it to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Central Regionals with her improved 9.25 beam score.

“Martha really came through,” Cesarek said. “She has been working hard on beam the past week because she knew she needed to improve on that score to qualify for regionals.”

Unger also placed third in the all-around with a 36.70 total, highlighted by a tie for first on floor exercise with Minnesota’s Shelley Brown at 9.45.

“We did well on both vault and floor,” Cesarek said. “We did a really, really nice job on bars.”

The Huskies had three gymnasts tie for second on uneven parallel bars: Unger, Michelle Rawlake and Julie Wimmers.