NIU gymnastics: Huskies welcome in-state rivals for State of Illinois Classic

By Steve Shonder

What’s happening

Gymnastics (8-3, 3-2 MAC) will host the State of Illinois Classic 6 p.m. Saturday at the Convocation Center. The Huskies will compete against the No. 12 Illinois Fighting Illini, the Illinois State Redbirds and the Illinois-Chicago Flames.


After hitting 195-plus in two-straight meets, the Huskies hit a road bump Friday against the Ball State Cardinals. The Huskies scored 193.225, which was their lowest total score since Feb. 1 when they scored 192.525 against the Western Michigan Broncos. Back at home after back-to-back road meets, the Huskies should be able to get back to 195, and they’ll have the motivation to do it with the season coming to a close.

The Illini are the No. 12 team in the country and are averaging 196.195. In their last meet, they scored 49-plus in every event except vault, where they scored 48.925. Junior Giana O’Connor put up a 39.625 all-around score, which tied the Illini’s all-time school record.

The Redbirds struggled early in the season, but they are starting to hit their stride. They’ve averaged a score of 194.1 in their last three meets.

Gymnasts to watch

Freshman Andie Van Voorhis hit a career-high 9.85 on vault to place second in the event against Ball State. Her career-high came after hitting 9.8 on vault Feb. 20. She will look to continue her upward momentum in the event Saturday.

The quotes

“I know each event is trying to go [break] those event records,” said head coach Sam Morreale. “It’s something that they talk about as a group. I’m not a big fan of the result-driven goals, but if it helps these guys move along I’m not opposed to it. The bad thing about getting into records and scores is we can’t control the judging. As long as we’re not looking up at the scores and saying that defines us, we’ve just got to keep moving forward.”

“Looking back, we beat two of the top teams [in the MAC],” said senior Kelly Nortz. “I feel like competing against a team who is ranked really well gives us motivation and just pumps us up.”