Both gymnastics teams travel, but not too far

By Kari Brackett

Both the men’s and womens’s gymnastics teams hit the road this weekend for meets on Saturday, but neither squad will have to travel far.

The men journey to U of I, while the women voyage into Illinois State territory.

It is the first meeting this year between the two mens’ teams, but the women Huskies competed against the Redbirds earlier in the season.

In February, NIU’s women’s team hosted the Illinois Classic. Illinois State won the meet, while NIU placed third. Illinois came in second.

“They are an awfully strong team,” Coach Bobbie Cesarek said. “The whole team will qualify for the NCAA tournament.”

ISU’s senior Betsy Cekander is one of the team leaders. At the Illinois Classic, she won first place in the all-around with a 36.75 score.

Martha Unger has been the most consistent competitor for NIU. She is an all-around gymnast who hopes to qualify for the NCAA championships. Unger followed only Cekander in the all-around competition at the Classic with a second-place score of 36.40.

Cesarek said the one event she has been real disappointed with is the balance beam.

“We have been practicing on the beam for an hour each day,” Cesarek said. “We also had a mini-meet on the beam Thursday night.”

The team has had trouble with injuries and Ceserak is hoping there are not any more problems.

“We are holding together with athletic tape right now,” she said.

For the men’s team, it may be an uphill battle. Illinois is ranked 11th in the nation and was ranked 10th up until last week. NIU is 19th.

The Huskies have been fighting injuries all year and Coach Chuck Ehrlich said he hopes his team can overcome its inconsistency.

“We are still capable of scoring in the 270 range,” Ehrlich said. “We are missing way too much. Maybe the reason we are inconsistent is because we are so young, but I doubt it.”

All-around gymnast Carlos Fulcher has been nursing a knee injury and was not able to compete in all events at Tuesday night’s home meet, but he hopes to be able to compete in the all-around Saturday.

Ehrlich said the pommel horse has been up and down all year long and he believes the team needs more improvement in that event.

“We have been scoring 83 and 8.4 when we should be averaging around 9.2,” he said.