NIU gymnastics: Huskies complete comeback

By Steve Shonder

What happened

Gymnastics (3-0, 1-0 MAC) pulled off a comeback win against the Lindenwood Lady Lions, winning 191.95-191.275 Friday at the Convocation Center to remain undefeated this season.

How it happened

The Huskies started fast on vault as they got solid scores from sophomores Courtney Dowdell (9.7) and Megan Greenfield (9.7). Senior Amanda Stepp (9.775) was tied for second in the event with Lady Lion freshman Valeri Ingui.

The fast start didn’t last long as NIU struggled on bars and the balance beam while Lindenwood pulled ahead on the score sheet by three-tenths of a point. Junior Lauren Africano had NIU’s highest score on bars with a 9.675.

Beam was a tough event for both teams, but the Huskies’ top three scorers — Stepp, junior Jaelyn Olsen and Greenfield — were able to carry them with scores of 9.7, 9.75 and 9.775, respectively. Ingui’s 9.8 was the event’s highest score.

Despite an uncharacteristically poor scoring outing — Stepp and sophomore Brittany Wenzel were penalized for going out of bounds — on floor, the Huskies were able to take advantage of Lindenwood’s struggles on beam to eke out the win.

Senior Kelly Nortz, filling in for senior Shelby Davis in the lead-off spot, led the team with a 9.7. Nortz’s score was good enough to place third in the event.

Northern Star gymnasts of the meet

Ingui carried the Lady Lions throughout the meet on her way to a 38.95 all-around score. Her only down event came on bars, but her 9.65 was good enough to earn third place. She won floor and beam with scores of 9.725 and 9.8, respectively.

Stepp continued her hot start to the season, leading the Huskies on vault. She also landed the second-best team score on floor and beam, 9.65 and 9.7.

The quotes

“I just think we were a little tight, competitive wise, and then a couple kids went out of bounds,” said head coach Sam Morreale. “There were definitely some routines throughout the night that made me scratch my head based on what I saw and what was scored, but it is what it is.

“The scores, in my opinion, weren’t what we performed. We were at least a point better, based on what we did up there. Sometimes you run into judging that’s tighter, and that’s what you have to go with.”

“We have a saying: ‘Just be the next hit.’ So we just try to go out and do that,” Stepp said. “Try to be the next score to count.”