Gymnastics lands top-50 in national rankings

The NIU gymnastics squad placed 41st in the nation in the most recent rankings.


Courtesy of NIU Athletics

Head gymnastics coach Sam Morreale talks to his team during a meet in the 2021 season.

DeKALB — NIU women’s gymnastics cracked the Jan. 24th release of the gymnastics top-50,  placing 41st and will look to keep climbing throughout the season.

The Huskies have been on this trend for the past few seasons as they finished 45th in 2021 and 39th in 2020.

“These kids have been preparing daily since they came back starting from fall,” head coach Sam Morreale said. “We have been working on brushing up routines and feel we are in a much better place to be able to clean little things.”

NIU currently holds a National Qualifying Score (NQS) of 194.308, placing them between the University of Illinois and the University of Pittsburgh. National Qualifying Score is calculated by taking each team’s six highest scores of the season, eliminating the highest score and averaging the rest out.

“As the year goes on, we want our NQS to be in that 195-196 range,” Morreale said.

The top 36 teams at the end of the season will qualify for NCAA Regionals, meaning the Huskies have more work to do if they want to improve on the 194.308 score they currently hold.

The Huskies have had success over the past few years as they won the Mid-American Conference Championship in 2019. While pleased with the success, Morreale knows more can always be done.

“We came up short last year and shot ourselves in the foot,” Morreale said. “We won in ‘19 and it was canceled in ‘20. The expectation now is to compete for a championship. We only won once so we have to do that again.”

The Huskies have competed in three meets so far this season and have finished second in all three. NIU finished the Florida Quad Meet with a score of 194.550, the Kent State Tri-Meet with a score of 194.150 and the Tennessee Collegiate Classic with a score of 194.225. While the individual and team scores are good, the team knows it’s the little things that will put them over the top.

“The easiest fix for us is the landings,” Morreale said. “It’s the last thing the judges see. Every step you take is a tenth off and if we land all of our beam and bar landings, then that’s an extra point in score. We don’t need any major overhauls or changes. But we know that hitting and sticking landings is what will put us in that 196 range.”

Even with younger faces now in the lineup such as freshmen Alana Anderson and Emmalise Nock, Morreale is not worried about the level they need to compete at.

“We rely on upperclassmen to show the new girls the way, but the great thing is this freshman class is very accomplished,” Morreale said. “They’ve competed at the Junior Olympic level, they have all been to nationals at that level and they have competed in big meets. What the older girls will help them with is the grind of the college level.”

NIU’s next meet will be at 1 p.m. Sunday as they take on Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio to open Mid-American Conference play.