The Northern Illinois gymnastics season continued on an upward swing Sunday at the NIU Convocation Center, where the Huskies improved their season-best score by a monumental margin of three points, but fell to a red-hot Western Michigan team, 194.575-193.350.
The Huskies opened Mid-American Conference competition and a three-meet homestand by putting up season-high team scores in all four events, topped by a 48.825 mark on floor exercise.
The Huskies’ overall team score easily outpaced the 190.350 total versus Southeast Missouri State as 11 gymnasts tied or set new season highs.
“There were so many positives today it’s hard to pinpoint one or two,” said NIU Head Coach Sam Morreale. “I am ecstatic with our score and ecstatic with our growth. The difference between us and them is landings, we can easily get a point on landings. Our skill level is as high as theirs and our team knows that. They were a little more polished and that was the difference.”
Morreale pointed to a strong start on vault as one of the keys to Northern Illinois’ performance Sunday.
“We were six-for-six on vault today and we did our more difficult vaults,” he said. “I believe that success propelled us to be comfortable on bars. I was really happy to see Kim Gotlund hit all four of her routines, especially bars, which is the one she hasn’t been able to get past. That’s a great all-around score for her.”
Gotlund earned a season and career best 38.725 by hitting all four of her events. The meet’s lone all-arounder, Gotlund posted career high scores on bars and floor exercise with a 9.625 and a 9.775, respectively.
Senior Tanya Rachan paced the Huskies on vault and floor exercise as she earned the best scores of her career on both events. Her 9.800 on vault was 1.25 higher than her previous career best of 9.675, set in 2010, while her 9.850 on floor exercise marked her third straight score of 9.800 or higher this season.
Rachan tied for first place on floor and tied for second on vault.
Four other Huskies earned top four five finishes in the meet, led by Megan Melendez, who won balance beam with a 9.700, and Ashley Guerra, who tied for second on uneven parallel bars with a 9.775. Senior Shonda Clore tied for fifth on bars as she went 9.750 while Marisa Liptak tied for fourth on floor exercise with a career best mark of 9.775.
With the loss, Northern Illinois’ record drops to 1-2 overall, 0-1 in MAC competition, while Western Michigan improves to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the league.
NIU is in action at home again next Saturday, Jan. 28, as the conclusion of a tripleheader of events at the Convocation Center.
The action begins at noon as the Huskie men’s basketball team takes on Buffalo, followed by a women’s basketball match-up between NIU and Kent State at 2:30 p.m.
In gymnastics, Northern Illinois will play host to New Hampshire in a non-conference meet beginning at 7 p.m.
For more information on NIU gymnastics and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.