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Huskie gymnastics squad beats Illinois State, records second-highest NIU team score ever

March 4, 2012
Megan Melendez

Megan Melendez

The Northern Illinois women’s gymnastics team recorded the second-highest team score in school history en route to a 195.100-194.350 dual meet victory over Illinois State Sunday in Normal.

NIU posted its best team totals of the year on uneven parallel bars, balance beam and floor exercise with six scores of 9.800 or higher in three different events.

The Huskies did not count a score lower than 9.650 on the day while raising their record to 4-5 overall. Northern Illinois’ total topped its previous season best of 194.775, set Feb. 11 at Bowling Green. The 195.100 matches the mark posted on Feb. 1, 2004 at Kent State which ranks behind only the 195.650 school record set March 23, 2003 at the State of Illinois Championships.

“We had a great day,” said an enthusiastic NIU head coach Sam Morreale.

“We were hitting on all cylinders from the very beginning. To go 195 is a team effort. We weren’t perfect, but we were able to shake off errors. We didn’t get rattled and the next person stepped up and got it done. This team is really together right now, they have a commitment to each other not to let the team down. It’s an awesome thing.

“I told the team right after the meet that we are peaking at the right time. We are pretty pumped [with the 195] but we still want to keep going. We are definitely stepping in the right direction. What I love is we are not afraid to work. ”

Ashley Guerra

Ashley Guerra

NIU opened the meet on bars and behind season-best scores of 9.800 by Shonda Clore (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northview HS) and Megan Melendez (Stafford, Va./North Stafford HS) and a 9.775 by Ashley Guerra (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg HS), the Huskies put up a 48.850 on the event.

Clore and Melendez tied for first on the event, one of two firsts for Melendez on the day as she also won balance beam with a team season best and career high score of 9.850. Clore and Kim Gotlund (Wadsworth, Ill./Warren Township HS) shared second place on beam with matching 9.775s. Northern Illinois’ 48.850 total on beam was the ninth-best in school history and the highest since 2009.

On floor exercise, the Huskies continue to chase a 49.000 score after recording a season-best 48.975 on the event Sunday behind a pair of 9.825 scores by Gotlund and Natalie Sutter (Barberton, Ohio/Coventry HS).

Gotlund and Sutter tied for first place on floor with Tanya Rachan (Lowell, Ind./Hanover Central HS) taking fourth with a 9.800 and Marisa Liptak (Kendall Park, N.J./South Brunswick HS) just behind in fifth with a 9.775. Rachan also tied for fourth on vault with a team-high 9.750.

“Our finish on beam was amazing,” Morreale said. “We caught [ISU] after floor and they came back and did well on floor, but we were really good on beam today and got the win.

Gotlund totaled a 38.925 in the all-around to earn her second-highest all-around tally of the season.

The Huskies next travel to Ypsilanti, Mich. on Saturday, March 10, for the EMU Eagle Invitational, a quad meet featuring Temple and Air Force in addition to NIU and the host Eagles.

The Huskies return to Illinois for the State of Illinois Championships on Saturday, March 17, in Champaign before returning to DeKalb to host the 2012 Mid-American Conference Championships on Saturday, March 24, in the NIU Convocation Center.

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