History of the Week: Gymnast Sandy Menard sets out to break NIU history


Sandy Menard was the first gymnast to compete in the NCAA Championships in Los Angeles on April 16-18, 1998. She qualified after completing the NCAA Central Regional gymnastics Championships.

By Northern Star staff

Gymnast Sandy Menard set out to do something no other athlete at NIU had ever had the chance to do: win a national championship.

“This is the happiest moment of my life,” Menard said, according to an April 5, 1998, Northern Star article.

Menard broke NIU history with a 38.800 performance at the NCAA Central Regional Gymnastics Championships in Tuscaloosa, Ala. that weekend.

“Sandy is statistically the best gymnast NIU has ever had,” then-women’s gymnastics coach Bobbie Cesarek said.

On Oct. 9, 2015, Sandy Menard was inducted into the 2015 hall of fame class. The 1998 Mid-American Conference Uneven Bars champion is the only Huskie women’s gymnast to earn a bid to the NCAA Championships.

Menard achieved a mark of 39.40 in the all-around at the 1995 Midwest Individual Championships, a mark that was then a school-record and still ranks tied for second-best in NIU history. In 1996, Menard scored a 9.925 on the vault, a score that remains a school record today.