Gymnastics reaches 194 in loss

By Steve Shonder

Despite strong performances across the board, gymnastics was unable to defeat the No. 16 Central Michigan Chippewas.

The Huskies (5-6, 2-4 MAC) lost to the Chippewas (10-2, 4-1 MAC) 194.675-194.05 Sunday at the Convocation Center. This is the first time NIU has reached 194 this season. The meet was also Senior Day, with the team bidding farewell to seniors Kim Gotlund, Megan Melendez, Natasha Jufko and team manager Maggie Cimarolli.

“We’ve been trying to get there for a long time, so it feels good,” junior Amanda Stepp said. “We’ve had the potential to get there the whole season, but it was nice to pull all together for the seniors. So, it was a good way to send them off.”

Head coach Sam Morreale was glad the Huskies were able to finally reach a team score of 194, but he was disappointed they were unable to pull off the win.

“We come out every day to win, and we come out every day to do our best,” Morreale said. “We came up short in a couple spots, but we’re overall pretty happy with what we did.”

Central Michigan was as good as advertised on vault, outscoring NIU 48.875-48.425. Sophomore Jaelyn Olsen led the Huskies with a 9.775 to place third overall, while the Chippewas’ Kirsten Petzold and Halle Moraw placed first and second with scores of 9.85 and 9.825, respectively. Stepp scored a 9.7.

Bars continued to be a hit-or-miss event for the Huskies. Sophomore Natalie Amadio had the meet’s second-highest score with a 9.725. Her score was tied with CMU’s Karlee Teet, while Kylie Fagan placed first with a 9.75.

Gotlund had NIU’s second-highest score with a 9.675 and sophomore Lauren Africano earned a 9.625.

After struggling last weekend, the Huskies have picked up the momemtum on beam. They outscored CMU 48.95-48.175. Their 48.95 is tied for the seventh-highest beam score in the program’s history.

Melendez led the Huskies with a 9.9, which was the team’s highest score on any event this season. It also tied her for the seventh-highest score ever on beam. It was also the first time since 2009 anyone scored a 9.9 or higher on beam.

“I was happy because coming back from my foot injury I had to water down my routine a lot,” Melendez said. “I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to score as well with this watered-down routine, but I knew this was coming to be my last performance in the Convo… . I just wanted to do the best that I could.”

Melendez’s score was tied for first with CMU’s Taylor Noonan. Olsen took second with a 9.825 and Gotlund’s 9.8 put her in a three-way tie for third place with Preslee Harrald and Emily Heinz of Central Michigan.

CMU scored a 49.1 on floor, which was enough to hold NIU’s score of 48.6. Taylor Bolender of the Chippewas placed first in the event with a 9.9, which is also tied for a meet high. Stepp placed second in the event with a 9.85. Junior Shelby Davis scored a 9.725 for the Huskies’ second-highest score on the event.