Northern Illinois gymnasts Kim Gotlund (Wadsworth, Ill./Warren Township HS), Megan Melendez (Stafford, Va./North Stafford HS) and Tanya Rachan (Lowell, Ind./Hanover Central HS) have been named to the 2012 Gymnastics Academic All Mid-American Conference Team, the league office announced Wednesday.
NIU’s three selections tie for the most in school history for gymnastics.
“I can’t say how proud I am of the ladies that earned this award,” said NIU head coach Sam Morreale. “It’s great that we have kids who are lighting it up in the gym and in the classroom. I definitely feel Kim, Megan and Tanya stepped it up in both areas this year. This is another indication of a team going in the right direction.”
Northern Illinois placed three individuals on the team after being shut out on the Academic All-MAC squad a year ago. NIU also had three gymnasts honored on the 2009 Academic All-MAC squad. Honorees are selected in a vote of MAC Faculty Athletics Representatives.
All nominees must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 and have participated in at least 50 percent of the season’s contests. Freshmen and first-year transfers are not eligible.
Rachan, a 2012 NCAA Regional selection as an individual event specialist on floor, carries a 3.404 GPA in biological sciences. She took second on floor exercise at the 2012 MAC Championships and became the first NIU gymnast to score a 9.900 or higher when she posted that score at the State of Illinois Classic and again at the MAC meet. Rachan competed in four events for NIU as a senior and ranked first on the team in both vault and floor exercise.
Melendez was named one of two MAC Specialists of the Year as a sophomore in 2012 for her team-leading performances on balance beam.
A three-time MAC Specialist of the Week, Melendez tied for third on beam at the MAC Championships and led NIU on that apparatus while also competing in the last nine meets of the year on uneven parallel bars.
The Virginia native has a 3.511 GPA, also in biological sciences.
After finishing fifth in the all-around competition at the 2012 MAC Championships, Gotlund was a second-team all-conference choice and represented the Huskies at the 2012 NCAA Champaign Regional. A sophomore health sciences (pre-physical therapy) major with a team-best 3.711 GPA, Gotlund ranked second on the team on floor exercise and had 19 top five finishes in 52 routines on the season.
In addition, Huskies Shonda Clore (Grand Rapids, Mich./Northview HS), Ashley Guerra (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg HS), Marisa Liptak (Kendall Park, N.J./South Brunswick HS) and Natalie Sutter (Barberton, Ohio/Coventry HS) earned honorable mention Academic All-MAC honors from the MAC. Clore and Guerra were seniors in 2012 while Liptak and Sutter are juniors.
“To be a student-athlete and excel in both disciplines is hard to do,” Morreale said. “The academic aspect is a big part of what we emphasize in recruiting. It’s something we value highly and we are always striving to improve academically as well as athletically.”
All seven NIU gymnasts earned the first Academic All-MAC honors of their careers. The Huskies completed the 2012 season with a 8-13 record after taking fourth place at the Mid-American Conference Championships.
Five of the seven MAC gymnastics team placed at least one individual on the Academic All-MAC team for 2012, led by league champion Central Michigan and Western Michigan with four representatives.
For more information on NIU gymnastics and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.