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Gymnasts hit all routines, earn top score of 2013

February 16, 2013
Jaelyn Olsen

Jaelyn Olsen

Northern Illinois continued its upward trend to the 2013 season by earning its season-best team score for the second consecutive meet with a 194.375 Friday night versus Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. After topping the 194-point total for the first time last Friday at Central Michigan, the Huskies went .350 higher Friday while hitting all 24 of its routines.

The Huskies 194.375 total was not enough to overcome the Cyclones’ season-best 195.175 score as Northern Illinois fell to 3-3 on the season. ISU improved its season mark to 3-5.

“It was a cool venue playing in their big arena, with a nice crowd so it was great experience for us that we’ll be able to take forward,” said NIU head coach Sam Morreale. “We hit bars and that got us started. It’s like anything, once you get that good start everything flows. Then we went to vault and Jaelyn Olsen hit a beautiful vault that she owned.”

On vault, freshman Olsen (Bethany, Okla./Putnam City West HS), the Huskies’ top vaulter this season, unleashed arguably the best vault by a Northern Illinois gymnast in four years as her full twisting yurchenko scored a 9.875 from the judges. That tied as the seventh-highest scoring vault in school history and earned the best mark since NIU’s Holly Reichard recorded a 9.875 on the event versus Eastern Michigan on Jan. 25, 2009.

Kim Gotlund

Kim Gotlund

Olsen easily won the vault event, while Kim Gotlund (Wadsworth, Ill./Warren Township HS) claimed the all-around title with a team season best 38.900.

After scoring a career-best 9.775 on uneven parallel bars on the Huskies’ first rotation, the junior from Wadsworth, Illinois added 9.775s on both balance beam and floor exercise. Gotlund took fourth place on all three events. Her bars and beam scores were career highs, while her 9.775 on floor tied her season best on that event.

In addition to Gotlund’s night, four more Huskies had career performances at Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum.

NIU junior Natasha Jufko (Spring Hill, Fla./Pasco-Hernando HS) took second place on balance beam with a routine that scored a 9.850. Megan Melendez (Stafford, Va./North Stafford HS) tied her top mark on bars with a 9.800 to take third place and added a 9.775 on balance beam. Natalie Sutter’s (Barberton, Ohio/Coventry HS) 9.750 on uneven parallel bars tied her best score on that apparatus for fifth place. Sutter tallied a 38.700 all-around score to place third with her second-highest total of the season and of her career.

As a team, NIU earned its season-best score for the second straight meet as Northern Illinois did not count a “miss” all night.

Amanda Stepp

Amanda Stepp

The Huskies scored a 48.775 on balance beam for its top scoring event, just slightly better than NIU’s 48.675 on floor exercise. In addition to Gotlund’s 9.775, Amanda Stepp (Lapeer, Mich./Lapeer East HS) recorded a 9.750 on floor that Morreale said was as good as any he has seen from her. NIU totaled a 48.550 on bars with Melendez, Gotlund and Sutter pacing the Huskies on the event. Northern Illinois earned a solid 48.375 on vault.

“This was one of the first 24 for 24 meets I can remember,” Morreale said.

“We’re extremely happy with the performance. Everybody stepped up and did their jobs. We really felt the scores could have been even higher, especially on floor and vault. We finished great on last event, balance beam, which is good to see that we can be that strong at the end of a meet and we feel like we are going to keep improving on vault. We like the direction we’re going.”

Northern Illinois returns home Saturday, Feb. 23, to take on No. 22 Kent State on in Victor E. Court. The meet will be the second half of a doubleheader with the Huskie men’s basketball team.

For more information on NIU gymnastics and Huskie athletics, visit