Sophomore Jaelyn Olsen (Bethany, Okla./Putnam City West HS) won the vault and balance beam and senior Megan Melendez (Stafford, Va./North Stafford HS) claimed the uneven parallel bars Friday night to lead the Northern Illinois University gymnastics team to a 192.050-188.825 win over Ball State t the NIU Convocation Center.
A standing-room-only crowd at Victor E. Court saw the Huskies improve their record to 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the Mid-American Conference in NIU’s 2014 home opener.
NIU head coach Sam Morreale said the Huskies’ performance compared favorably to their effort in the season-opener at Nebraska although several of the squad’s top gymnasts had off nights on their favorite events.
“I thought we did well,” Morreale said. “We did a lot of things better than we did at Nebraska. I’m proud of how we got the job done but there is still plenty to work on. As far as the scores, we are not in a bad place but we need to pick it up. We’re 1-1 and we’ll get back in the gym and get to work this week.”
Olsen paced the Huskies on vault and balance beam as she scored a 9.775 on vault and recorded a career-best 9.700 to win beam. Melendez won bars with a 9.725 despite suffering an injury early in the meet that forced her out of the balance beam event.
In her absence, freshman Courtney Dowdell (Lynwood, Ill./T.F. South HS) stepped in as an all-arounder for the first time. Dowdell took second on vault with a season-best 9.700, tied for third on uneven parallel bars with a 9.675 and tied for fourth on floor with a 9.650.
“Jaelyn had a really good vault and so did Courtney,” Morreale said.
“I thought we were solid on bars and Megan hit a great routine. On beam I thought Jae stood out again. We weren’t planning on Courtney going all-around but she stepped in after an injury and went all-around for the first time. She didn’t hit beam but the experience will help her as the season goes on.”
Senior Kim Gotlund (Wadsworth, Ill./Warren Township HS) won the all-around with a season-high 38.600. She was second on floor exercise (9.700) and balance beam (9.675) and tied for third on bars (9.675).
NIU returns to action at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, when the Huskies play host to MAC foe Western Michigan at the NIU Convocation Center. Admission to all NIU home meets is free in 2014.
For more information on NIU gymnastics and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.