Gymnastics’ home defense falters

By Steve Shonder

Gymnastics put up its highest team score of the year, but it wasn’t enough to secure a win.

The Huskies (4-3, 2-1 MAC) took on the Texas Woman’s Pioneers, the Iowa State Cyclones, and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks in a four-team meet Sunday at the Convocation Center. This is the second straight meet where NIU has hit a new high score and lost.

The Pioneers walked away from the meet as the winners with a score of 193.875. The Huskies took second with a score of 193.825. Iowa State and late addition to the meet, Wisconsin-Whitewater, held the last two spots with scores of 192.725 and 191.8, respectively.

Despite the loss, head coach Sam Morreale was pleased with the direction the team is headed in.

“We keep getting better each time out,” Morreale said. “That’s kind of our goal. We still haven’t attained what we’re trying to, but today was definitely another step in that direction.”

On vault, sophomore Jaelyn Olsen tied with Iowa State’s Caitlin Brown with a 9.8 to lead the event. Junior Kelly Nortz and freshman Megan Gilliam had the Huskies’ second best score, each scoring a 6.75. The Huskies won the event with a score of 48.4, just ahead of the Pioneers’ 48.375. Wisconsin-Whitewater had a 47.95 for third, which was the only time the Warhawks did not finish last.

Uneven bars was Texas Woman’s best event of the night, as it scored a 48.775, which was tied for the highest event score. Iowa State came in second with a 48.325, and the Huskies placed third with a 48.3.

Iowa State Cyclone Camille Santerre-Gervais, who placed first with a 9.9, and Henrietta Green, who placed third with a 9.825, were excellent on the event. Santerre-Gervais’ score was the highest individual event score.

The Huskies were led by Kim Gotlund’s 9.75 in the event. No other Huskie gymnast put up a score higher than a 9.675, which was achieved by freshman Courtney Dowdell, junior Morgan Johnson and sophomore Natalie Amadio.

NIU tied with Texas Woman’s on beam with a 48.425. Olsen set a personal record on beam with a 9.75, which gave her the second-highest score in the event behind a tie for first between Iowa State’s Michelle Shealy and Alex Marasco.

Olsen was pleased with her score and thinks she can reach higher.

“I just did what I did in practice,” Olsen said. “I keep training harder and harder every day to make everything count. I just had positive thoughts going through my head and the mental imagery of my routine over and over again. Just trusting my body, because I know how to do it. I do it every day in practice.”

Iowa State placed first on floor exercises with a 48.775. The Cyclones were led by Milan Ivory and Green, who scored 9.85 and 9.825 respectively. Junior Peyton Taylor placed third in the event with a 9.8. The Huskies finished second on floor with a 48.7.

Gilliam, who subbed for Dowdell on floor, thought her score of a 9.625 was an improvement from the meet against Kent State, where she scored a 9.55.

“I just had to focus and get my job done,” Gilliam said. “I knew what I had to do to step up for the team. I just tried my best.”