The Northern Illinois gymnastics team hit all 24 of its routines en route to its seventh-best team score ever and a 194.775-193.975 victory over Bowling Green Saturday at Anderson Arena.
The win lifted NIU’s record to 3-3 overall, 2-1 in the Mid-American Conference, while Bowling Green fell to 1-8, 0-3.
NIU earned its season-high team scores on every event beginning with a 48.800, where the Huskies had struggled in the last two meets.
The Huskies’ total of 48.550 on vault was its best mark since 2009 and the 48.950 team score is the top floor exercise mark since at least the 2007 campaign. Northern Illinois secured the win with a 48.475 mark on balance beam to hold off the Falcons, a traditionally strong floor squad.
“Oh my gosh, it was so much fun,” said an enthusiastic NIU head coach Sam Morreale. “We had so many positives, so many bright spots, it was awesome. Kim [Gotlund] was first for us today and she rocked on bars and went 9.725. That was our starting point, and when you start there it makes everything easier. We competed really, really well from the first routine to the last.”
Gotlund (Wadsworth, Ill./Warren Township HS), NIU’s lone all-arounder, went on to record the best day of her Huskie career as she achieved career-best marks on all four events to score a 39.000. Northern Illinois multi-event gymnasts Natalie Sutter (Barberton, Ohio/Coventry HS), Shonda Clore (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northview HS) and Tanya Rachan (Lowell, Ind./Hanover Central HS) each went three-for-three.
“From an overall driving force of the team, to have the multiple event kids – Kim, Tanya, Natalie and Shonda – hit everything was huge,” Morreale said. “I was really happy to see us compete so well away from home. To be able to go to beam and finish off [the win] and hit with five solid scores against a really good floor team in BG is great experience for our team.”
Gotlund won the all-around and Megan Melendez (Stafford, Va./North Stafford HS) and Ashley Guerra (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg HS) claimed individual event titles on balance beam and uneven parallel bars, respectively. Melendez claimed her third bars title in the last four meets with a 9.750, while Guerra won her second bars title of the season with a 9.825. Individually, Gotlund’s scores of 9.750 (vault), 9.725 (bars), 9.675 (beam) and 9.850 (floor) all placed in the top five.
A senior, Rachan posted her career best scores on vault and floor exercise and placed in the top three on all three of her events. She took second on floor exercise with a 9.875, NIU’s best floor score in three years, tied for second on vault with a 9.825, and was third on beam with a 9.700.
Sutter’s 9.850 on floor exercise tied for third while her 9.725 mark in uneven parallel bars tied for fifth, and Clore earned a second place finish on bars (9.775) and a tie for fourth on balance beam (9.675).
NIU freshmen Morgan Johnson (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland HS) tied for third on uneven parallel bars with a career high 9.750 and Amanda Stepp (Lapeer, Mich./Lapeer East HS) tied for fourth on beam with a 9.675.
While the day was filled with 12 individual career and 16 season high scores, Morreale believes the Huskies can score even higher.
“We had a great day, but we can still go higher,” Morreale said. “We are just scratching the surface. This team really wants to keep getting better. It’s exciting, it’s fun.”
Northern Illinois returns to Ohio next Sunday for a dual meet versus 2011 NCAA top eight finisher Kent State. The meet gets under way at 1 p.m. (CT) in the MAC Center.
For more information on NIU gymnastics and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.