Gymnastics rewrites record book in home debut

Huskies tie and break career bests in first place finish at NIU Tri-Meet.


Sean Reed

Senior Morgan Hooper (center) celebrates with teammates after completing her performance on the balance beam at the NIU Tri-Meet Friday at the Convocation Center in DeKalb. Hooper competed in all four events, finishing within the top-5 on vault, balance beam and floor exercise. (Sean Reed/Northern Star)

DeKALB — The NIU women’s gymnastics team held their first home meet of the 2022 season Friday, taking first place against Lindenwood University and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater at the NIU Tri-Meet.

After all four rotations had finished, the Huskies finished with a score of 196.300, setting a new school record for highest team score in an event and marked the first time they had made it into the 196-point range this season. Lindenwood followed in second with 193.625 and UW-Whitewater took third with 192.275.

“Super excited to get it done at home,” head coach Sam Morreale said. “This is the team we’ve been talking about all year and five meets in, we finally showed it. The way we performed, their energy, their enthusiasm, pulling for each other, that stuff was awesome.”

Lindenwood junior Gayla Griswold took first place in vault with a 9.825. Senior Gabby Welch led the Huskies in scoring, taking second place with a 9.800. Freshman Emmalise Nock finished third with a 9.775 and senior Morgan Hooper, UW-Whitewater senior Rachel Lewellen and UW-Whitewater freshman Kara Welsh tied for fourth with a score of 9.700.

Junior Natalie Hamp tied a career-best 9.925 on bars to take home first place, while freshman Alana Anderson scored a 9.900 for second and freshman Brookelyn Sears scored a 9.875 for third. Sears also finished with a 9.775 on beam.

On the balance beam, sophomore Alyssa Al-Ashari set a new career-best with a score of 9.900. Lindenwood senior Hadley Roberts took second with a 9.850 and Hooper finished with a 9.850 for third place. Sophomore Kendall George set a new career-best with a score of 9.800 and finished fifth. 

This is the team we’ve been talking about all year.

— Head coach Sam Morreale

Senior Tara Kofmehl scored a 9.925 on the floor routine to tie her career best, while Hooper along with Nock, Anderson and Griswold tied for second place on the floor routine with a score of 9.875. Welch and Sears both tied for sixth place with a 9.800.

Sears finished with a score of 39.125 in the all-around to take first place. Hooper followed with a 38.400 for second and UW-Whitewater senior Emily North took third with 37.325.

“We’ve got a great mix of young and old girls,” Morreale said. “Our upperclassmen are leading us, but the freshmen are rock stars. They’re just coming in and performing. We are better than we were today. We will be better and that’s so exciting.”

The Huskies will be back in action 7 p.m. Friday when they travel to Normal to take on the Illinois State University Redbirds.