Huskies fall to Illinois, Central Michigan in second meet of season

By Andrew Hanson

NIU gymnastics coach Mark Sontag knew Sunday’s meet at the Convocation Center was going to be a tough test for his young team.

The Huskies (1-3 overall, 1-1 MAC) placed third with a score of 190.45 against a strong Illinois team. It won the meet with a score of 192.825 against a MAC gymnastics power in Central Michigan, which placed second with a score 192.25.

“We were missing a few from our lineup,” Sontag said. “You’ve got to be 100 percent with Central Michigan and Illinois.”

NIU struggled with the uneven parallel bars — no one placing in the top three — but bounced back with strong efforts in the balance beam and the floor exercise.

Sontag said coming into the meet he was least worried about the parallel bars, the Huskies’ strongest event in practice.

Freshman Leah Johnson won the all-around title with a score of 39.05. Johnson placed third in the vault with a score of 9.8, fourth in the uneven parallel bars with a score of 9.675 and fourth in the balance beam with a score of 9.8.

“I just do what I’m supposed to do,” Johnson said. “It’s not so much about me, it’s about the team.”

Other Huskies placing high were sophomore Jennifer Rice, who placed second in the balance beam with a score of 9.825 and freshman Jennifer Naughton, who placed second in the floor exercise with a score of 9.8.

“Northern is an up and coming program,” CMU gymanstics coach Jerry Reighard said. “It’s not a one-team race in conference.”