Gymnastics unsuccessful in weekend road trip

By Steve Shonder

Gymnastics wasn’t able to get anything going on the road as it went 1-3 this weekend.

NIU (5-6, 2-3 MAC) lost at the State of Illinois Classic Friday, before losing to Bowling Green (7-5, 4-1 MAC) Sunday.

The Huskies placed third with a score of 193.625 in the Illinois Classic Friday in Normal. Illinois won the meet with a 195.825. University of Illinois-Chicago placed second with a 194.3. Illinois State, which hosted the meet, finished fourth with a 193.2.

The Huskies were solid through the first three events, earning a 146.4 before moving onto beam. They were on pace for a 195 team score. Head coach Sam Morreale thought the team was having a season-best performance until beam.

“We took a lot of positive steps forward,” Morreale said. “We had a bunch of career highs on the first three events. We did a lot of things really well. We just tried too hard on beam, and it steamrolled on us.”

NIU earned a 47.225 on beam, the lowest event score it has had on the event since scoring a 47.05 against Nebraska Jan. 11.

Senior Kim Gotlund led NIU in the event with a 9.75. Her score was tied for fourth with Illinois’ Elizabeth McNabb.

One of the bright spots for NIU was the return of senior Megan Melendez. Melendez, who scored a career high 9.85 on bars, was returning from a foot injury she suffered Jan. 24. Her score tied her for third in the event with Sarah Fiedler and Giana O’Connor of Illinois and Amanda Mohler of Illinois State.

Morreale was impressed with her return performance.

“Just to come in like that was great,” Morreale said. “She had beautiful routine.”

Freshman Megan Gilliam continued to impress as she scored a career high 9.7 on floor and a career high 9.775 on vault.

Against Bowling Green Sunday, the Huskies lost 194.825-193.375. The loss knocked NIU’s conference record down to 2-3. Morreale thought the team didn’t come out with enough energy to beat the Falcons.

“We were a little off our game,” Morreale said. “We seemed sluggish at times, but we did manage to put up a decent fight overall.”

NIU was unable to win any events in the meet, but did manage to recover on beam with a score of 48.475, which was its second highest event score in the meet. Morreale believes the improvement on beam was a reaction to the poor outing on Friday.

“They had a goal to improve,” Morreale said. “We typically approach it competition-to-competition. They just approached Sunday a little looser.”

Senior Natasha Jufko and sophomore Jaelyn Olsen tied with Bowling Green’s Alyssa Nocella with a score 9.8 on beam. Jufko’s and Olsen’s score was a big step up from their respetive 9.075 and 9.575 beam scores in Friday’s meet.

Olsen maintained her dominance on vault with a 9.825, which tied her with Amanda Lievendag of Bowling Green for first on the event.