Women’s gymnastics triumphs over Bowling Green

By Jacob Onak

The NIU women’s gymnastics team showed heart and composure as they came from behind to defeat the Bowling Green State Falcons 192.775-192.525 in their MAC home opener.

The Huskies got off to a slow start in their first two events: vault and bars. In vault the Falcons had three gymnasts have a score of 9.800 or higher with junior Megan Harrington scoring a 9.850, sophomore Amanda Lievendag scoring a 9.825, and senior Danielle Wishart scoring a 9.800 even. NIU freshman Jaelyn Olsen had a team-high 9.800 in the vault event. The Falcons bested the Huskies in the event with total score of 48.975 to 48.675.

In uneven parallel bars event the Falcons continued to strengthen their lead. Lievendag continued her strong performance with a team-high score of 9.750 while NIU answered back with a 9.700 score from senior Natalie Sutter. Bowling Green State took the event 47.800-47.625.

With Bowling Green State up in the first two events, the Huskies put their heads down and really went to work in the last two events of the day.

In the balance beam event the Huskies took control with all-around solid scores. The Huskies topped the Falcons 48.800-48.250 thanks to top scores from juniors Natasha Jufko and Megan Melendez. Jufko put in a 9.825 on the beam while Melendez added with her own 9.800. NIU head coach Sam Morreale was proud of the way his team responded in the balance beam event.

“We talked about it after bars and said we were going to restart the meet and start on beam, and the beam group did an outstanding job of coming out and rocking,” Morreale said in a news conference. “It was hit after hit after hit after hit. That’s the hardest thing, coming off an event where you struggle. That put us back in the meet.”

The Huskies continued to shine in the floor exercise, which has been one of NIU’s strengths this year. Senior Marisa Liptak came out with an event-high 9.850 while sophomores Amanda Stepp and Shelby Davis contributed to the Huskies’ score with 9.750s of their own.

The Huskies won the floor event 48.675-47.500 which gave them an overall score of 192.775 and the victory over Bowling Green State’s 192.525. Morreale said the Huskies needed to start off better but was happy they were able to pull out the victory.

“I have to give credit to the beam line-up, starting with Amanda who kind of stopped the bleeding with a big hit,” Morreale said in a news conference. “Jaelyn [Olsen] has been banged up all week, but she came out and did arguably did one of our best vaults in a long time. Natalie [Sutter] went 38.5 in her second all-around and Kim [Gotlund] had three strong events.”

A representative from Bowling Green was not able to comment after the meet.