Gymnastics faces tough road test

By Chris Dertz

There are two steps to getting on a roll: winning one, and then winning the next.

After nabbing its first victory of the season last weekend over Bowling Green, the NIU gymnastics team will have its hand at the latter on Sunday, against Central Michigan.

The Huskies (1-3 overall, 1-1 MAC) will travel to Mount Pleasant, Mich., leaving DeKalb for just the second time this season.

They opened the season on the road, taking third against national powers Kentucky and Illinois.

In the Chippewas (7-0, 1-0), NIU faces an opponent that has yet to falter. CMU is coming off of a 193.375-point performance last weekend.

If NIU wants to be competitive on the road this weekend, its youthful roster will have to grow up quickly.

That youth may be tested further, as junior all-arounder Tanya Rachan didn’t practice on Thursday, after practicing on Tuesday.

“She’s about 50-50, I’d say,” said NIU head coach Mark Sontag.

With injuries having ravaged the Huskies’ roster thus far, many young gymnasts have had to step into a competing role right away.

One such freshman has been Maggie Cimarolli, who was thrust into three events last weekend against Bowling Green.

With Rachan out, Cimarolli may be competing in all-around competition this weekend as a freshman.

“It’s difficult for them because the college meets are so different from club meets,” Sontag said. “The pace is quicker, there’s more cheering. It’s just a very different environment from what they’re used to.”

While all the young gymnasts have been thrown right into the fire, Sontag takes heart in the fact that they’re getting meet experience under their belts right away.

As common as injuries are, Sontag is looking forward to getting the young girls seasoned early on, to account for any contingency plans.

“We need to have a lineup that is changing periodically,” Sontag said. “That way if someone tweaks a knee or an ankle, we have someone who is ready to step in for them.”