Huskies hustle for season highs


Natalie Stutter performs on the bars during a meet against Western Michigan University Sunday at Victor E. Court.

By Matt Hopkinson

Despite producing its season high event total and scores in all four events, NIU women’s gymnastics fell to Western Michigan Sunday.

Western Michigan (3-0, 2-0 MAC) got off to an early lead after the first event and never looked back, as they defeated the Huskies 194.575-193.350.

The Huskies (1-2, 0-1 MAC) line-up features many underclassmen, while Western Michigan had a line-up consisting of mostly juniors and seniors.

“We went from being a young team, to now growing up together,” said Western Michigan coach Dave Kuzara. “They’ve trained hard; it’s been fun. Northern looks great. They’re much improved. We kind of got lucky and pulled it out.”

NIU performers posted event highs in balance beam and tied for top in floor exercise, with scores of 9.7 by sophomore Megan Melendez on beam and a score of 9.85 on floor by senior Tanya Rachan.

The Huskies were led by by sophomore Kim Gotlund, who posted a cumulative score of 38.725 for all events.

“I feel like I paced myself the whole meet, took it one event at a time,” Gotlund said. “I haven’t hit four for four this whole year, so I was proud of myself.”

NIU’s lowest score on an event came on the balance beam, which saw its two exhibition participants post scores that would have beaten out two spots on the starting six line-up.

“The top six are our starters, and we’re kind of rotating kids in that exhibition,” said NIU coach Sam Morreale, “The reality of that is there’s less pressure during an exhibition. It makes us as coaches make decisions.”

Morreale has stressed the way in which the team carries itself and likes what he sees this season. Despite a loss, there isn’t a glaring concern, especially given the high scores.

“We belong, they know that. Our goal every meet is to do what we did here,” Morreale said. “Keep taking steps forward. We’re going to keep paying attention to detail. If we’re going to get better our exhibitionists have to push our starters.”