Gymnastics set for quad-meet

By Steve Shonder

With only two meets left before the MAC Championships, gymnastics has to make every meet count.

The Huskies (5-6, 2-4 MAC) will take on Eastern Michigan (3-8, 1-3 MAC), Temple and Air Force 8 p.m. Saturday in Ypsilanti, Mich. NIU is coming off a strong meet where it finally reached a 194 team score, and head coach Sam Morreale expects them to carry that momentum into the quad-meet, especially with the season almost over.

“A lot of [the gymnasts], especially the upperclassmen, start to see this is their last couple shots,” Morreale said. “As a team, we’re trying to achieve those goals; we have [three] more shots to do that.”

Eastern Michigan has struggled recently, with back-to-back losses to Air Force last week. The Eagles are capable of getting hot as they scored over a 194 in the three meets prior to the losses to Air Force.

Morreale said the Huskies will likely need to score better than they did against Central Michigan if they’re going to knock off Eastern Michigan.

“They’re a talented, solid team,” Morreale said. “They’re scoring 194s, pretty much consistently. We’re going to have be on our game to beat them.”

The Eagles’ Chantelle Loehner has been a strong performer of floor, scoring a 9.85, 9.8 and 9.8 in her last three outings.

A 9.8 is the highest individual score put up by any EMU gymnast in the two meets, but they do have several gymnasts who frequently score a 9.7 and above.

The Temple Owls are coming off a season high score of 192.325 versus Ursinus College. The Owls’ Heather Zaniewski led them on vault with a score of 9.75, while all-arounders Brittanie DeMeno and Briana Odom scored a 38.15 and a 38.025, respectively.

Air Force has been setting new season highs in every meet this season. At this pace, it should break 194 in Ypsilanti, giving the Huskies another high-scoring team to deal with.

The Falcons are led by Linnaea Hance, who in her last meet, scored a 37.95 in the all-around category. Kara Witgen has been a surprise for the Falcons, scoring a 9.8 in her debut on floor against Eastern Michigan March 1.

Senior Megan Melendez, who is coming off 9.9 score on beam, believes the Huskies are on the right track as they start to prepare for the MAC Championships in three weeks.

“I think it’s a good time for this meet, because Eastern Michigan is hosting the MAC [Championships],” Melendez said. “We’ll get a chance to see their venue and see what their equipment is like and kind of get a feel for the arena before we return in two weeks for the MAC Championships. We’re excited. We’re on the right track to peak at the right time at for MAC Championships. This is just taking another step in the right direction. So hopefully, we can meet some of the goals that we were hoping to get earlier in the season. We still have three more weeks to accomplish what we want to do.”