Melendez wins third MAC Specialist of Week

Megan Melendez
Megan Melendez

For the second consecutive week and third time this season, Northern Illinois sophomore Megan Melendez has been named the Mid-American Conference Specialist of the Week, as the league office announced the weekly awards Tuesday.

Melendez was honored after her performances on balance beam and uneven parallel bars Saturday at the EMU Eagle Invitational, a quadrangular meet versus Northern Illinois, host Eastern Michigan, Air Force and Temple.

She claimed the balance beam title at the EMU Eagle Invitational with a score of 9.825, her second-highest score of the year as she led the Huskies to a team total of 48.700 on balance beam. Melendez was also the Huskies’ top finisher on uneven parallel bars with a 9.750 as she tied for fourth on that apparatus.

“What else can I say about Megan? She’s a very talented and competitive gymnast,” said NIU head coach Sam Morreale.

“What’s impressive about her beam routine is it’s brand new since the beginning of the year. She is a dynamic, fun gymnast to watch on beam and it’s nice that the judges are starting to reward that. After the knee injury a year ago, we expected her to be able to contribute on bars. She has learned a new dismount there and she is only going to keep getting better.”

Melendez was the MAC Specialist of the Week last week after winning beam and tying for first on bars at Illinois State. She was one of the league’s co-Specialists of the Week on Feb. 13 after the Bowling Green meet, where she won another of her five balance beam titles this season.

“This is what we’re looking for,” Morreale said. “We want kids who can come in and make an impact as freshmen and sophomores. To be where she is as a sophomore bodes well for the future.”

NIU (5-7, 2-4 MAC) travels to Champaign, Ill. for Saturday’s State of Illinois Classic as the state’s four Division I gymnastics team from Illinois, UIC, NIU and Illinois State will compete at Huff Hall beginning at 4 p.m. (CT).

Northern Illinois will host the Mid-American Conference Gymnastics Championships Saturday, March 24, in the NIU Convocation Center. The meet, featuring all seven league gymnastics teams, begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are on sale at the door for $10 for adults and $5 for senior citizens, youth and students from any MAC school with a valid ID.

For more information on NIU gymnastics and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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