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NIU gymnastics: Huskies riding historic outing into MAC Championships

DeKALB – The Northern Illinois gymnastics team is looking to keep making history.

After a record-breaking outing to close out the regular season, the Huskies are riding a wave of confidence heading into the Mid-American Conference Championships on Saturday in Muncie, Indiana.

"I feel like we're more confident this year as a team," Northern Illinois junior Ashley Potts said. "We've had a lot more success and this year we have a chance to make regionals as a team. The whole team is really focused this weekend and we want to get it done."

It was a bittersweet end to the regular season for the Huskies. In a meet at Central Michigan, they set the program record with a score of 196.150. However, Central Michigan edged them with a score of 196.575 and if Northern Illinois would have won, it would have been crowned the regular season MAC champions.

"You can't lose sight of the positives," Northern Illinois coach Sam Morreale said. "We had a lot of good things, we just came up a bit short. ... It's hard to look at that day and say it's a failure."

The Huskies (10-7-1 overall, 4-2 in MAC) finished in second place behind Eastern Michigan, which went 5-1 in conference play but lost at Northern Illinois earlier in the year.

"It's bittersweet because we get the highest score we've ever gotten, we hit a 196 – which is something we've never done – but we had so much at stake that I think it overshadowed the record-breaking day," Northern Illinois senior Courtney Dowdell said. "After we sat down and talked about how the meet went, it turned out to be a great meet."

It was the first time the Huskies cracked 196 points in program history. The previous high was 195.800 against Eastern Michigan in 2015.

Northern Illinois senior Jamyra Carter also added some individual history in the meet, as well. She tied the school record for best finish in the uneven parallel bars, scoring a 9.950 in the event.

"It didn't feel like one of my better routines, so I didn't expect it," said Carter, who was named second team all-MAC earlier this week. "When I saw the score, I was really happy."

Alisha Conahan recorded a 9.950 in the bars during the 1997 season.

Now the Huskies are looking for another chance at history at the MAC Championships. After narrowly missing out on the regular season championship, Northern Illinois is looking for its first top two finish in program history. Last season, the Huskies qualified four individuals for the NCAA Regionals – along with two alternates – but they said they want to qualify as a team, which is something they haven't done since 1995.

"We have really good depth and our skill level across the board is up," Morreale said.

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