Senior Tanya Rachan (Lowell, Ind./Hanover Central HS) and sophomore Kim Gotlund (Wadsworth, Ill./Warren Township HS) are set to represent Northern Illinois at the 2012 NCAA Gymnastics Champaign Regional Saturday, April 7, beginning at 4 p.m. (CT) at Assembly Hall on the University of Illinois campus.
Rachan is the lone event specialist on floor exercise, while Gotlund is one of five all-around gymnasts from a non-competing team in the competition.
Live video of the Champaign Regional, including individual streams from each event and a full broadcast with commentary, will be available FREE through the University of Illinois’ NCAA Gymnastics Regional web page.
The page also includes links to information on the open practices, tickets and parking. Live scoring will also be available online during the meet.
After leading NIU to a fourth-place finish at the Mid-American Conference Championships during a season in which NIU tied for its second-highest score in school history, head coach Sam Morreale is happy to be closing out his first season at the helm at NCAA Regionals.
“For me, I’m extremely pumped that in my first season we were able to get two individuals through to regionals,” Morreale said. “I’m glad this year’s site is so close, because I’m able to bring the alternates that are underclassmen and they get a little bit of the experience and hopefully catch the desire and fire to get there. The great thing about getting kids to Regionals is they get to see that, with the exception of top two teams, we are doing the same gymnastics as these other teams. As a team, we are not that far from getting there.”
Rachan, who has put up scores of 9.900 on floor exercise in each of her last two meets, drew a spot in the first rotation for her floor routine. She will be in the same group as the Illinois-Chicago team as each individual gymnast competes as the final person in the rotation with one of the six teams at the regional.
Gotlund, a second-team All-MAC performer, will rotate with the homestanding Fighting Illini in the traditional “Olympic order.” The Wadsworth, Ill. product will begin on vault and finish the meet as the last performer on floor exercise.
“Competing at Illinois this year is familiar,” Morreale said.
“It’s an easy trip down there, more of our fans and even some of our team can get there, and it’s nice that the teams Tanya and Kim are competing with are teams we know in UIC and Illinois. We’ve competed against them; we know their coaches and gymnasts. Usually you get adopted by their fans, and their team is supportive so it’s a neat atmosphere.”
Gotlund and Rachan are at different points in their gymnastics careers, but the experience of competing at an NCAA Regional is special for both, according to Morreale.
“It’s the culmination of an excellent year by both Tanya and Kim and is a great way to close out the season,” he said.
“It’s so hard to qualify individually, especially as an individual event person because there is just one spot per event. I’m really happy that Tanya gets to put the finishing touch on her career on floor at regionals. She’s done the work in the gym for four years. For Kim, getting there as a sophomore is a huge honor and this can really catapult her into next year. Our goal is the same as it was at MACs, to go out, have a good time and give it our best effort and enjoy the experience.”
Rachan and Gotlund extended 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 (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg HS) was selected as the alternate on uneven parallel bars, while junior Natalie Sutter (Barberton, Ohio/Coventry HS) was the alternate to Rachan on floor exercise.
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.
For more information on NIU gymnastics and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.