Northern Illinois University gymnasts Kim Gotlund (Wadsworth, Ill./Warren Township HS) and Amanda Stepp (Lapeer, Mich./Lapeer East HS) closed out the 2014 Huskie gymnastics season with solid performances Saturday at the NCAA Fayetteville Regional in Fayetteville, Ark.
Gotlund, a three-time All Mid-American Conference gymnast who competed in all four disciplines in every meet for the Huskies over the last three seasons, closed out a stellar career with an all-around score of 38.100. Stepp, a junior who qualified for the Regionals as the lone specialist on floor exercise, earned a 9.775 to tie for eighth place in the meet.
NIU head coach Sam Morreale was pleased with the performance of both of his Regional qualifiers.
“I thought they both did really, really well,” Morreale said.
“Maybe it wasn’t their best ever, but both looked comfortable, they weren’t scared or overwhelmed. All in all, it was a great finish for [Kim’s] career and she was proud of herself. Amanda did what she did all year [on floor]. She warmed up really well, and she’s determined now to get back here with the team next year.”
Gotlund put up three excellent routines Saturday as she scored a 9.725 on both floor exercise and balance beam, and went 9.650 on uneven parallel bars. Her balance beam score tied for eighth place in the meet.
Unfortunately the senior fell on the landing of her vault and scored a 9.000, her lowest vault score of the season by more than five-tenths.
“She missed her entry and she didn’t get any rotation and that’s why she ended short,” Morreale said. “She did really well on floor and her bars [routine] was good. I thought balance beam was a really good event for her, just hard to score. She was the `UCLA anchor’ all night and their team was very welcoming and supportive of her so she felt great.”
During the meet, Gotlund rotated with the No. 8 UCLA team, while Stepp competed on floor following the gymnasts from UC Davis. The Huskies also had a chance to see No. 5 Utah, who won the Regional and advanced to the NCAA Championships along with runner-up UCLA.
“What you realize when you are here is that sure, the top three teams are a lot better than us, but the other three teams that were here, there’s no reason it can’t be us,” Morreale said. “You see those teams and you say, `that’s us.’ We have the athletes. It’s a matter of getting a better start [to the season] and cleaning up the skills we’ve got.”
NIU sent two gymnasts to Regionals for the second time in three years and have had at least one Huskie selected for Regionals in seven of the last eight seasons.
The Huskies finished the season with a 11-11 record, went 3-3 in the MAC in the regular season and placed fourth at the NCAA Championships. NIU scored 195 or higher in two meets for the first time in school history, tying the second-highest team score ever with a 195.100 score on March 8.