NIU senior gymnast Holly Reichard (Palatine, Ill./Palatine Fremd HS) has been selected to compete in the 2011 National Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics Championships as an individual for the third time in her four-year career with the Huskies.
Reichard will compete at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at the NCAA South Central Regional at the University of Oklahoma.
She is only the fourth Huskie women’s gymnast all-time to make at least three appearances at the NCAA Regionals, and the first since Kristina Campos advanced to regionals in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.
“It is very fitting for Holly to be able to continue her final season at NCAA Regionals,” said NIU head coach Mark Sontag. “I am so happy to see her be able to continue a fantastic career in the postseason. It’s been an honor to coach Holly for four years and to see her at the top of her game this season, with great routines on all four events every time she goes out there, is a testament to her hard work and dedication.”
Reichard was chosen for regionals as a freshman in 2008 and again in 2009. A year ago, she competed with a leg injury throughout much of the season, missed several meets altogether and was limited to only a couple of events in others. The same injury has limited her training time as a senior, but did not stop the Palatine, Ill. native from attaining some of the best scores of her career in 2011.
As an all-arounder, Reichard reached the 39-point mark three times and scored 38.6 or higher in six competitions.
Her best event in 2011 was balance beam, where she averaged a 9.7 and scored 9.8 or higher in each of NIU’s last three meets, including at the MAC Championships, where she tied for third place. She led Northern Illinois on all four events in 2011 with her team season best scores of 9.850 on uneven parallel bars, balance beam and floor exercise also setting or tying her career best scores on those events.
“After going through the injury last year, and knowing that it has still bothered her throughout this whole season, what she’s done as a senior has been that much more impressive,” Sontag said. “To get those 39 [total] all-around scores and put herself in a position to be the No. 3 seeded all-arounder going into regionals is a great accomplishment and we are very, very proud.”
Unlike teammate Ashley Guerra, who made her NCAA Regional debut a year ago on uneven parallel bars, Reichard brings experience with the regional format to Oklahoma. In 2009, she placed eighth in the all-around at the South Central Regional and also was fifth on the balance beam with a score of 9.825.
“There is no substitute for experience, especially in a meet like this,” Sontag said. “There are a lot of byes, a lot of time between events and it’s an incredibly long day. You basically walk up there cold for every event and have to perform at the highest level; Holly is capable of handling it both psychologically and physically, and I’m excited she’ll get the chance.”
Reichard’s selection marks the 18th time a Northern Illinois gymnast has been selected to compete at NCAA Regionals under current Huskie head coach Mark Sontag. NIU now has sent at least one gymnast to Regionals in 11 of the last 12 years and in each of the last five seasons.
Six teams, five all-around competitors (not on a competing team) and one individual event specialist per event were selected in each of the six regions. The top two teams, top two all-arounders not on an advancing team and individual event winners who are not a part of those groups will advance to the NCAA Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, April 15-17, hosted by Kent State University and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.