The Northern Illinois University gymnastics team put together its top performance of the season and did not count a score lower than 9.6 across all four events Sunday en route to a second place finish in a quadrangular meet at the NIU Convocation Center.
The Huskies (4-3) scored a win over Iowa State (3-6), which came into the meet ranked 32nd in the country, but could not overcome Texas Woman’s University (6-3), which took the team title by just .050 over NIU, 193.875 to 193.825. Iowa State was third with a 192.725, followed by Wisconsin-Whitewater (7-6), which totaled a season-high 191.800.
NIU head coach Sam Morreale said his team was determined to improve on its most-recent performances in this meet.
“It was a great performance,” Morreale said. “Everyone really stepped up. Our focus was not to underachieve like we felt we had in the past couple of meets, so the team did a good job of putting our heads down and working. I definitely saw a bunch of improvement.”
NIU entered the final rotation with a .025 lead over TWU and led Iowa State by .100. The Huskies posted their season best team score on floor exercise with a 48.700 but TWU went 48.775 on bars to overtake NIU and claim the win.
In addition to the season-high scores on floor and overall, NIU put together its second-highest scores of the year on vault (48.400), uneven parallel bar4s (48.300) and balance beam (48.425) Sunday.
Jaelyn Olsen’s 9.800, which tied for first place in the meet, led NIU’s vault squad to the top team score of the meet. The Huskies’ 48.425 total on balance beam tied with TWU for meet-high honors as Olsen also led the Huskies in that event with a career-high score of 9.750 to tie for third place.
Senior Kim Gotlund took first place in the all-around with a 38.750 behind a 9.775 on floor exercise and a 9.750 on uneven parallel bars, which led the Huskies on that event. Peyton Taylor led NIU on floor with a season-best 9.800.
“Kim again had a solid performance with just a little hiccup on vault,” Morreale said. “It was good to see Peyton hit the 9.8 on floor exercise. Overall, I thought the bars team swung better today. I was pleased with what they did.”
Morreale said NIU will look to continue to build on Sunday’s performance.
“I am extremely happy with where we are and where we are going,” Morreale said. “They want to achieve more and are coming in to work hard every day to get there. Today was a good day. It’s good to come out of this meet 2-1. We will learn from our mistakes and keep improving.”
Next weekend, the Huskies will compete on both Friday and Sunday, beginning with the annual State of Illinois Class at 7 p.m. Friday in Normal, Ill., versus the state’s other three women’s gymnastics teams (Illinois-Chicago, Illinois and Illinois State).
NIU returns to league competition Sunday, Feb. 23, with a 1 p.m. (CT) meet at Bowling Green.
For more information on NIU gymnastics and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.