Gymnasts searching for potential

By Laura Higgins

Good seasons—like the NIU gymnastics team’s 16th-place finish in the nation last year—are sometimes hard to match.

But, for coach Bobbie Cesarek and her Huskie tumblers, the makings are all in the bag.

The team’s current record stands at 8-3 as of last weekend’s third-place finish in the University of Michigan meet, while the average tally is fluctuating around 185. Last year NIU was turning in scores near 187 at this point and posted no marks in the loss column.

Inconsistency on the balance beam appears to be a matter of concern for the Huskies this season, according to sophomore tumbler Dayna Lia. But, she adds that the team has made vast improvements on the vault and on the floor exercises.

“We’re hitting only a couple of routines from the beam this year instead of hitting 5-of-6,” Lia said. “We have all the tricks we need and it’s not a matter of lack of talent. It’s just a matter of polishing things up and making them work for us.

“Our floor exercises and vault are very consistent, it’s more or less the beam we need to smooth out. We have all the potential in the world and there’s nothing in our way to stop us from going to regionals.”

The Huskie’s regional qualifying score last year was 188.88, nearly three points higher than they are averaging right now. But, with six meets left, including two in California over the spring break, the team will have plenty of chances to up its tally.

“If we get ourselves together these last six meets we’ll have an excellent chance to get back to regionals,” returnee gymnast Sheryl Kurowski said. “We’ve just got to have everybody hitting their routines on the same day.

“We haven’t peaked yet as a team, but hopefully it will happen soon. We’re looking to bring some great scores in the next couple of weeks.”

Cesarek felt her team peaked too soon last year and possibly could have finished higher. This season she has worked on executions and changes with the team that will hopefully enable them to rise at the right time.

And it appears that now might be an appropriate time. After falling off the beam five times in last weekend’s Michigan meet, the Huskies were able to get a firsthand look at where their weaknesses stood.

“I definitely think last weekend’s meet made us wake up to what we really need to do,” Lia said. “We had the potential to win, and we have the potential to win, but we let it slip away from us.

“We want to score a 190 and get our average score up … those are two definite goals for the team. We just have to keep working hard in practice and we’ll make it. We have the potential.”