Southeast returns home, wins

Saturday, January 19, 2002

Southeast Missouri State University's gymnasts found home to be sweet, indeed.

Southeast, after dropping two on the road, captured its first win of the season in a triangular meet Friday against Northern Illinois and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse at Houck Field House.

"I told them tonight's the night," Southeast coach Patty Stotzheim said. "I put a little pressure on them and they knew what was expected. It was a bit of our plan going into the season to pull together by the third or fourth meet."

Southeast won the team title in all four events -- parallel bar, vault, balance beam and floor -- with an overall team score of 188.65.

Northern Illinois, coached by former Southeast coaches Mark Sontag and Kris Buchheister, finished second with 185.9. Wisconsin-LaCrosse, a Division III school, had 180.4.

Sontag, third-year head coach at Northern Illinois, said his team lost points with minor miscues throughout the evening.

"We nickel-and-dimed ourselves all day," he said.

On his return to Southeast, Sontag said, "To come back feels like coming home. It's very comfortable for me."

Ashley Godwin, Southeast's sophomore standout, led her team with wins in the all-around (38.125) and her specialty event, the vault. Godwin tied for first in the parallel bars with junior teammate Amy Cole. Cole finished second in the all-around with 37.675 points. Kristina Campos of Northern Illinois took third in the all-around.

Southeast senior Michelle Walker (9.75), Godwin (9.675) and senior Elenor Wilson (9.65) swept the floor exercise. Walker also took third in the balance beam and freshman Katie Bloom tied for second in the vault.

"Michelle had a stunning floor exercise," Stotzheim said.

Northern Illinois associate head coach Buchheister was the Otahkians head coach from '97-'99. Sontag spent nine seasons as an assistant at Southeast.

"The most enjoyable thing is seeing how successful the five seniors that I recruited here are doing," Buchheister said of her return to Cape Girardeau. "Not only as gymnasts, but academically and as women."

llewis@semissourian.com

(573) 335-6611, extension 171

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