Northern Illinois gymnasts Tanya Rachan and Kim Gotlund have qualified for the NCAA Regional Gymnastics Championships and will represent the Huskies at the Champaign Regional on Saturday, April 7, as the NCAA announced the 2012 2012 NCAA Gymnastics Championship field Monday.
The Regional will be held at 4 p.m. (CT) at Assembly Hall on the University of Illinois campus.
After placing second on floor exercise at Saturday’s Mid-American Conference Championships with her second consecutive 9.900 score, Rachan was selected as the lone specialist on that event, while Gotlund is one of five individual all-around competitors.
In addition to the NCAA Regional selection, Gotlund was named Monday to the All Mid-American Conference second team. She earned the nod after her fifth-place finish in the all-around competition at the MAC Championships where she put together four solid routines to total a 38.900 for her second highest all-around score of the season. Gotlund is the Huskies’ first All-MAC performer since 2009.
By receiving a bid to the NCAA Regionals, Rachan and Gotlund extend the Huskies’ streak of consecutive seasons with a regional qualifier to six.
NIU will send two individuals to NCAAs for the first time since 2009, when Holly Reichard went as an all-arounder and Jennifer Naughton competed on balance beam. In addition to Rachan and Gotlund, senior Ashley Guerra was selected as the alternate on uneven parallel bars, while junior Natalie Sutter is the alternate to Rachan on floor exercise. Guerra and Sutter will only compete at regionals if the person ahead of them is unable to compete.
“It’s always great, especially for me in my first year as a head coach, to have kids step up and get this done,” said NIU head coach Sam Morreale.
“For them to qualify as individuals is a huge accomplishment because it’s not something we set as a goal for the team. So the desire really comes from within to push hard and keep striving to be at the top and be selected individually.”
Rachan led the way on the Huskies’ strongest event in 2012 – the floor exercise. She earned a 9.900 in each of her last two meets of the season to tie for NIU’s fourth highest score on the event all-time and received the first 9.900 or higher on floor exercise since Kristina Campos in 2005. The senior from Lowell, Ind. scored 9.800 or higher on floor 11 times in NIU’s 12 meets in 2012 and placed in the top four on the event in each of those 11 meets.
“Tanya’s routine is certainly good enough that she can make a run at nationals,” Morreale said. “In terms of difficulty, her routine is as difficult as anyone I’ve seen or that we’ve competed against. She loves the performing part of it and that’s where she shines. She makes it look effortless, and she has gotten better and better each meet.”
Gotlund qualifies for regionals in just her second season after battling injuries a year ago.
The Wadsworth, Ill. product competed in every event in every meet for NIU and achieved season high scores of 9.800 on vault, 9.725 on bars, 9.775 on beam and 9.850 on floor exercise. Her best all-around score of the season was a 39.000 versus Bowling Green on Feb. 11.
“Kim has had some ups and downs, but she loves to work and it’s not always about the accolades for her,” Morreale said. “This is a testament to her dedication and determination and hard work. Even though she’s banged up and hurting, she doesn’t miss a practice and she works through it. I think [qualifying for regionals] is something she can build on for next year and it will really help her confidence and seasoning going into next year.”
Morreale was also pleased with Gotlund’s recognition as an All-MAC performer and believes her results at the MAC Championship will help her in the upcoming NCAA Regional competition.
“The beauty of that award is it is based on that one day so it is about putting it together on that one day in a high pressure situation,” Morreale said. “[Her performance at MACs] will help her going into regionals, it’s a confidence builder. She knows she can do it because she’s done it.”
Six teams, five all-arounders and four specialists (one on each event) were selected for each of the six regionals that will be held throughout the country on April 7.
The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Duluth, Ga., April 20-22, hosted by the Gwinnett Center and Georgia Tech.
In addition, the event winners at each regional site will advance to the national championships (in that event only) if they are not part of a qualifying team or an all-around qualifier.