Tanya Rachan scored a 9.900 on floor exercise, the top score by a Northern Illinois gymnast on floor since 2005 and the first 9.9 by a Huskie on any event since 2009, to lead NIU at the State of Illinois Classic Saturday at Huff Hall in Champaign, Ill.
With the score, Rachan tied for first on floor exercise and was named to the 2012 All-State team.
Rachan’s score led the Huskies to a season-best 49.000 team total on floor exercise, the team’s top score on any event all season and a mark the floor squad had targeted since the first meet of the season.
Natalie Sutter scored a 9.825 on floor exercise to tie for fifth and freshman Peyton Taylor added a career-high 9.800 to take seventh place, while Kim Gotlund had a 9.750 and Amanda Stepp added a 9.725 to lead to the Huskies’ floor total.
“It was awesome to finally reach our potential on floor and meet one of our goals, and it was great to see Tanya get the 9.900,” said NIU head coach Sam Morreale. “She’s been that good a couple of times, and today she finally got rewarded.”
Northern Illinois’ floor score could not lift the Huskies out of a fourth-place finish at the meet as NIU counted a fall on both uneven parallel bars and balance beam to finish with a 193.050 total. Illinois took team honors with a 196.150, followed by UIC with a 194.550 and Illinois State at 194.350.
For the second consecutive meet, Northern Illinois got off to a slow start on its first event, the uneven parallel bars, despite senior Shonda Clore’s career-best 9.825 which tied the best mark on that apparatus this season and tied for fifth in the meet, and a 9.750 by Megan Melendez. The Huskies were forced to count a fall and totaled a 47.850.
NIU did not fare better on its next event – the balance beam – as its last two gymnasts fell, resulting in a 47.675 score for the Huskies’ beam team. For the fourth straight meet, Melendez led the way for Northern Illinois on balance beam as she earned a 9.750 to tie for fourth place.
Northern Illinois used the momentum from its floor performance to post a solid 48.525 on vault as Rachan hit for a 9.750, tying for fifth place, and Clore and Sutter added 9.725s and placed tied for seventh.
The Huskies’ 193.050 mark still replaces a lower road score from earlier this season and will raise the team’s Regional Qualifying Score, but it was not what Morreale and the team were looking for heading into next Saturday’s MAC Championships.
“It’s frustrating when we practice so well and warm up so well to have the misses that we’ve had the last two weeks,” Morreale said.
“Bars is a little more troublesome than beam because it was more of a hiccup on beam but bars is two weeks in a row. We’ve got to learn how to handle the pressure and I think this experience and going through it will help us do that. This score still helps us, because we do replace a lower score, but it’s not what we wanted.”
NIU will host the 2012 Mid-American Conference Gymnastics Championship at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 24, in the NIU Convocation Center. All seven MAC gymnastics teams will compete for the title. Tickets will be available at the door.