Gymnasts place second in season opener

By Laura Higgins

With the season opener now under its belt, the NIU women’s gymnastics team can be proud of a second place finish.

NIU traveled southwest this weekend to begin its season in the University of Missouri Shakespeare Classic. The host Tigers were the lone team to beat the Huskies. NIU finished ahead of University of Illinois, University of Iowa and University of Minnesota.

“I knew Missouri was way ahead of us based on the scores they turned in last week,” head coach Bobbie Cesarek said. “But, I was very delighted to beat all of the Big Ten schools. Illinois is traditionally strong.”

The Huskies finished with a team total of 183.80 and led going into the final event of the meet. But with uneven bars closing out the day—NIU’s weakest event according to Cesarek—the team was edged out by Missouri.

Leading the way for NIU was all-around competitor, Vicki Thimgan, who finished with a 36.85. Thimgan just missed capturing the all-around title from Missouri’s Kim Leslie, who was last year’s national champion for private clubs. Freshman Huskie teammate, Tiffany Bollinger, finished with a 36.1 in the all-around.

Senior Lori Lebo placed second on vault with a 9.45, followed by teammate Dayna Lia, who hit a vault for a 9.35. Lebo also tied for third place on the balance beam with a 9.5.

“Lori had a tremendous outing,” Cesarek said. “I’m really pleased with her. Tiffany also did really well for her first meet ever.”

Next weekend the Huskies will be in town for their home opener. NIU will host University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Valparaiso University and Winona State University on Saturday at 1 p.m.

“It’s really important to the girls to have support at our home meets,” Cesarek said. “Missouri had a wonderful crowd that really lifted them up and carried them. I hope we can get the same.”