NIU falls short of road win

By Rob Bolton

Oh, so close … yet, so far.

Unfortunately, that frustrating cliche loomed over the Huskies as the totals rolled.

The numbers became an illusion.

So did the victory.

When the NIU gymnastics team cruised on up to Central Michigan University for its first one-on-one battle of the season, the ladies knew the road endeavor could recall some haunting memories.

The last time the squad hopped a bus, Ball State University provided quantities of disappointment. Not only in the standings but in the eyes of each Huskie who squandered chances of success.

That time, they beat themselves.

This time?

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said NIU coach Bobbie Cesarek.

On paper, it wouldn’t appear as such since the Huskies hung tough with the Chippewas, winning three of the four events and the top three spots in the all-around competition.

Up in Mt. Pleasant on Saturday, the aforementioned bullet holes doomed the ladies as the Huskies fell to the Chippewas by a count of 186.25 to 185.40.

“Coming from the fact that we still have a couple of our key athletes out …” began Cesarek referring to Sandy Escobar (ankle) and Dayna Lia (back), “We made some key mistakes.”

Not many, though.

Goha Mroz, back to all-around competition after suffering from soreness to her hip flexors, easily won the vault with a 9.60. Sheryl Kurowski nabbed second place with her 9.45.

CMU tallied three 9.40s on the vault to inhibit another potential blowout by the Huskies. (Remember, NIU came off an 14.65 crushing over Wisconsin-Oshkosh and a 19.30 pummeling of Winona State in last week’s home triangular.)

Other Huskie scores included Danielle Beauchesne’s 9.25, Heather Okland’s 9.15, Vicki Thimgan’s 9.05 and Nickie Pedicini’s 9.00.

As NIU moved to bars, it was, once again, Mroz and Kurowski. Both tallied a 9.55 to share the blue ribbon. Tiffany Bollinger added a 9.35 while Thimgan contributed her 9.20. Amy Davis scored an 8.65 and Pedicini landed an 8.50 after two falls.

The balance beam continued the hope as Thimgan graced her way to a lead-tying 9.50 which she shared with Chippewa ace Kim Holmes. Pedicini garnered a tie for third with CMU’s Wendy Vasilauskas as the duo scored a 9.20. Kurowski had a 9.10 as Mroz landed a 9.00. Davis hit an 8.75 and Okland rounded it out with an 8.50.

Ironically, the floor exercise would be the team’s best event even though first place was given to Holmes’ 9.60. Mroz and Bollinger notched a lofty 9.55 while Okland and Thimgan were in hot pursuit with a 9.50 and 9.45, respectively. Kurowski’s 9.25 and Beauchesne’s 8.95 ended the onslaught for the day.

“(CMU’s) difficulty wasn’t as strong as ours,” Cesarek claimed, “but they were cleaner than we were … If we would’ve hit, they wouldn’t have beat us.”

CMU now claims an unblemished 3-0 ledger while Cesarek takes her 2-5 crew into Iowa State on Friday.

The road lessons continue.