Gymnastics splits weekend series with Redbirds


Sean Reed

Senior Morgan Hooper performs on the balance beam in the third rotation of the NIU Tri-Meet on Feb. 4 at the Convocation Center in DeKalb. Hooper competed in all four events at the meet, her best performance taking place on floor exercise with a score of 9.875.

DeKALB — The NIU women’s gymnastics team wrapped their weekend bout with the Illinois State University Redbirds with a win and a loss.

The Huskies fell to the Illinois State University Redbirds 194.900-193.775 in a dual meet on Friday at Redbird Arena in Normal, Illinois. NIU would return the favor two days as they defeated Illinois State 195.950-195.250 on Sunday at the Convocation Center.

Friday: ISU 194.900, NIU 193.775

Senior Gabby Welch led the Huskies in vault, scoring a 9.750 to take fifth place. Junior Ciara Ryan and freshman Isabella Sissi both tied for sixth place with a 9.725. ISU sophomore J’Chelle Heard took first with a 9.875, followed by ISU sophomore Madison Kipp, junior Angelica Labat and senior Charlise Doctor who scored 9.850, 9.825 and 9.775 respectively.

Junior Natalie Hamp scored a 9.825 for the Huskies to take third place on uneven parallel bars, followed by junior Brookelyn Sears who scored a 9.800. ISU senior Sofia Iribarren took first with a 9.875 and Labat placed second with a 9.875.

Freshman Alana Anderson and senior Tara Kofmehl took second on floor for the Huskies, tied with a 9.850. Freshman Emmalise Nock took seventh with a 9.750 and senior Morgan Hooper came in ninth with a 9.725. ISU freshman Jaye Mack took first with a 9.900.

Sears and Hooper both took home first on the balance beam with a 9.875, while ISU’s Labat took third with a 9.775. Kofmehl and ISU freshman Alana Laster rounded out the top four tied with a 9.700.

“We were good in a lot of places and saw some good individual performances,” Morreale said. “Overall, it was not a good vault day, I thought we tumbled as well as we had and the beam finished their routines strong with sticks on the landings, but there were too many major mistakes. The good news is we get to come back in a couple of days and have another shot at it.”

Sunday: NIU 195.950, ISU 195.250

NIU senior Gabby Welch took fourth place on the vault for the Huskies with a 9.775, while freshman Emmalise Nock and junior Brookelyn Spears both scored a 9.750 for fifth. ISU freshman Alana Laster scored a 9.925 for first place, sophomore J’chelle Heard and junior Angelica Labat both scored a 9.850 to tie for second.

“Today we were more like ourselves,” NIU head coach Sam Morreale said in an NIU Athletics press release. “I’m proud of their fight, their grit, they weren’t happy with Friday, and they came back and were able to prove what kind of team we are.”

The Huskies swept the uneven parallel bars, taking the top three spots as Sears scored a 9.875 for first, junior Natalie Hamp took second with a 9.850 and senior Liana Roman and sophomore Alyssa Al-Ashari scored a 9.800 to bring home third.

Al-Ashari dominated on the balance beam to take first place with a 9.925 and was followed by senior Morgan Hooper who rallied a 9.900 for second. Freshman Ellery Werner put on an impressive showing, scoring a 9.850 to place third. The three Huskies were followed by ISU’s Labat and senior Isabelle Fox who scored a 9.800 to tie for fourth place.

Finally, on the floor exercise, freshman Alana Anderson, senior Tara Kofmehl, ISU’s Labat and Laster all scored a 9.875 to tie for first place. Hooper and Nock followed right behind them with a 9.850 to tie for fifth place.

“We get that spark from a lot of different places,” Morreale said. “You’ve got veterans like Brookelyn, Tara, Morgan and Natalie and the anchors across the board were excellent. The more people we can get to shine, there will be more days like this.”

NIU will be back in action 4 p.m. Sunday when they welcome Central Michigan University, Western Michigan University and Iowa State University to the Convocation Center for a quad meet in DeKalb.