NIU gymnastics: Huskies end year on sour note

By Steve Shonder

Gymnastics’ record-breaking season came to a halt at the MAC Championships over the weekend when the Huskies tied for last place and posted a score of just 193.2.

The Huskies tied for sixth place with the Ball State Cardinals on Saturday in Kent, Ohio. The Kent State Golden Flashes came out on top with a score of 196.375, just one-tenth of a point ahead of the Central Michigan Chippewas, the MAC regular season champions.

How it happened

The Huskies scored just 48.65 on floor and weren’t able to find their way back to the record books just one week after tying the school record for best floor score. Senior Amanda Stepp led the way for NIU with a 9.85. Sophomore Brittany Wenzel had NIU’s second-highest score, 9.775.

The Huskies came back strong on vault with Stepp and true freshman Andie Van Voorhis scoring 9.875 and the team hitting 48.95. Stepp and Van Voorhis were tied for third overall.

NIU wasn’t able to mount a comeback in its final two events. Junior Lauren Africano hit 9.825 on bars and the Huskies totaled 48.35 in the event. Falls marred the Huskies’ performance on beam as they scored 47.25 to close out the meet.

Halle Moraw, Central Michigan Chippewas senior, was named MAC gymnast of the year and MAC senior gymnast of year. She was also tied for first place in vault with a score of 9.9 and was part of the five-way tie for first in floor exercise with a score of 9.9.

Northern Star gymnasts of the meet

Stepp wrapped up her career on another high note. Stepp scored 9.875 on floor before scoring 9.85 on vault and 9.7 on beam.

Van Voorhis capped off her successful freshman season with 9.875 on floor and 9.7 on beam.

The quotes

“I’m definitely disappointed for the girls, but not in the girls,” said head coach Sam Morreale. “We had a really good season, and we accomplished a lot of things, but [Saturday] just didn’t go our way. We were trained. We were ready. We were comfortable. We just had a bad day.”

“We went to bars and had a couple mental mistakes,” Morreale said. “We had some uncharacteristic mistakes. On beam we had some falls, and we made, for lack of a better term, silly mistakes. We just had a couple little minor lapses, and it cost us. We gave some stuff away. Again, when you’re not hitting on all cylinders it opens some opportunities for the judges to dock points.”

“We are very excited and encouraged for what we have coming in,” Morreale said. “This group of freshmen competed very well all year long. Those young kids are probably going to be fighting to be our best kids. We’re not going to build off this meet; we’re going to build off the 195.8.”