Northern Illinois put together its most complete meet of the 2013 season at Central Michigan Friday night, earning its season-high team total with a 194.025, but fell to the No. 21 ranked Chippewas at McGuirk Arena.
NIU’s team score was 1.150 points higher than its previous season best, led by a stellar performance on uneven parallel bars where the Huskies started the meet by combining for a 48.700 team score on the event.
NIU did not count a score lower than 9.700 on bars with Megan Melendez (Stafford, Va./North Stafford HS) and Lauren Africano (Bourbonnais, Ill./Bradley Bourbonnais Community HS) leading the way with 9.775 scores to tie for fourth place.
“We had a really, really good day,” said NIU head coach Sam Morreale.
“It was a great day for us on bars. We hit seven for seven [routines] on bars [including exhibition]. Lauren [Africano] did a great job starting us off and we were just steady. We stayed right in the 9.7 range the whole time so that was really encouraging.”
The Huskies’ 48.7 score on uneven parallel bars was .900 higher than its previous season best. Northern Illinois then moved to vault where freshman Jaelyn Olsen (Bethany, Okla./Putnam City West HS) performed her best vault of the year to earn a 9.825 and tie for first place. Olsen was part of a 48.475 total on the event.
On its third event of the night, floor exercise, Northern Illinois overcame a slow start to put up a team score of 48.550.
Senior Natalie Sutter (Barberton, Ohio/Coventry HS) anchored NIU’s line-up on floor with a season and career high 9.875 routine to win the event and record the top individual score of the meet. Marisa Liptak (Kendall Park, N.J./South Brunswick HS) added a 9.800 to tie for third on floor. Following the third event, the Huskies trailed the three-time MAC champions by just .175, 145.900-145.725.
“We were a little uncharacteristically bobblesome on floor,” Morreale said. “We left a few things out there but our floor was solid again. On beam, we were a little unsure in the middle of the line-up, but felt really good about most of it.”
Northern Illinois tallied a 48.300 on balance beam, led by Melendez’ 9.775 mark. She tied for second place, while Amanda Stepp (Lapeer, Mich./Lapeer East HS) earned a 9.700 to tie for fourth.
“We really didn’t count a miss all meet,” Morreale said. “It’s hard to be angry about our miscues when we destroyed our season high. This was definitely an indication of what we can do and we’ve got to keep plugging. We left a few things out there but we’re getting to where we need to be.”
NIU dropped to 3-2 with the loss and are 1-2 versus Mid-American Conference competition while Central Michigan improved to 7-4 overall, 2-1 in the MAC.