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KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Less than two days after the opening bout of the season in Tennessee, the Northern Illinois University women’s gymnastics team was back at the bars, vault, floor and beam Sunday afternoon as the Huskies defeated western Michigan, 194,250 -193.775 to Kalamazoo to get a victory at the Mid-American Conference. “This is definitely who we are,” NIU manager Sam Morreale said as the Huskies improved their team’s score by 1,150 since Friday night. “We were still a little nervous, we still have things to clean but I’m very proud of this group. Double weekends are tough and having this out of the box is a challenge, but maybe a godsend to get out here right away. We were light years better [than Friday night]. We will take the improvement; today we saw the team we see in training, that’s who we were today. “The Huskies (1-2, 1-0 MAC) were consistent in all four events on Sunday and did not score less than 9,600 in any Team beam once again led the way as NIU closed the match with a 48,775 on the event behind senior Zoie Schroeder (Champlin, Minn./Champlin Park HS) who tied first with a 9,850. Three Huskies – freshmen Kendall George (Westerville, Ohio / Westerville Central HS) and Olivia Lynd (West Chester, Ohio / Ursuline Academy), and Morgan Hooper junior (Lincoln, Neb./ St. Pius X HS) – were awarded the third place with scores of 9,750 on the beam while NIU outperformed WMU by .700 on the balance beam. “We are never afraid of ending up on the beam,” Morreale said. “We know it’s a solid event for us, we are well trained and well prepared for the pressure. Even with a new training with two freshmen, these guys are good at what they do “. NIU’s Natalie Hamp (Ionia, Mich./Ionia HS) won on rough parallels for the second time in as many matches with a score of 9,825, and was followed by second year Brookelyn Sears (Centerville, Ohio / Centerville HS), who tied for second with 9,775 with junior Tara Kofmehl (Mesa, Ariz./Red Mountain HS) fourth at 9,750. NIU opened the bout with a 48,575 on the bars after battling for the event on Friday night. “We have to get used to Natalie by winning bars,” Morreale said. “It’s similar to Mia [Lord] on the beam – when they do their thing – they are hard to beat. Bars is an effortless event for Natalie and that’s how you score like her. ”Schroeder and Kofmehl led the Huskies into the vault as they were in second place with scores of 9,725, contributing to NIU’s 48,400 in the event. Lord (Fishers, Ind./ Hamilton Southeastern HS) and Kofmehl each scored 9,750 in ground exercise to equalize for fourth place, paving the way for the NIU ground team, which totaled 48,500. Kofmehl set a record. of 38,875 in career to win the all-round title with one draw for the second and two draws for the fourth on the day. The NIU’s first home match will be Sunday, Jan. 31 at the Convocation Center. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the fans will not be allowed to participate. However, fans who want to show their support for NIU gymnastics can join the Fan Cutout program “Huskie Howl.” large cardboard lio of yourself, your family member, or even your pet, in the stands of every home gathering in 2021. All proceeds benefit NIU student-athletes through the Huskie Athletic Fund and clippings can be collected at the end of the season. To join the “Huskie Howl” and get your fan cutout today, click here. – NIU –
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