NIU gymnastics: Busy weekend on horizon for Huskies

By Steve Shonder

What’s happening

Gymnastics (4-1, 2-1 MAC) will face off against the Yale Bulldogs and the Iowa State Cyclones in a tri-meet 7 p.m. Friday at Navy Pier in Chicago as a part of the IGI Chicago Style Meet.

The Huskies will then host the Bowling Green Falcons and the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves 2 p.m. Sunday at the Convocation Center.


The Huskies have been getting better with each meet this season, and they’re starting to hit their stride at the right time. Iowa State and Bowling Green are riding hot streaks right now, scoring more than 195 in their last two meets, which will force NIU to have season-best outings at both meets if its going to come out of the weekend with a perfect record.

The Cyclones may pose one of the biggest challenges of the regular season for NIU. They’ve scored 193.4 or better in every meet this season and have competed against the country’s top teams in nearly every meet. That experience and success means the Cyclones won’t be fazed easily.

The Falcons are in the same boat as the Huskies in regard to improving throughout the season. Bowling Green started the year off with an upset win over the Michigan State Spartans, 194.775-194.075, Jan. 10, but fell into a rut before hitting 195 against the Ohio State Buckeyes Feb. 6 and improving from there.

Gymnasts to watch

Junior Jaelyn Olsen had an off meet Friday against the Central Michigan Chippewas, scoring 9.05 on beam and 9.25 on her first vault exercise of the season. Now that she has finally gone through the motions of a full meet, expect her to be back on her game.

Senior Meg Piepenbrink has broken through on bars for the Huskies, scoring 9.8 and 9.825 in her last two outings. With the Huskies continuing to improve on bars, Piepenbrink should continue her upward momentum.

The quotes

“These guys are chasing some big things this year,” said head coach Sam Morreale. “I think it’s great to finally get to that 194 level, so now we can make that our base. We know there are still things we need to fix. That’s what we’ve been getting at this week in practice.

“… It’s from a scoring standpoint where we’re still chasing those big scores, but again, we’re 4-1 right now, so we’re pretty happy about that. We took down the two biggest teams in the MAC this year, which for us is a big thing. We’re starting to get some of that belief in ourselves. We want the 195. Until we do that, we’re still chasing that.”