Hey There Illini Fans!!
Since my teammate Jordan spoke with all you fans out there in our last Illini Ink edition, we have had quite an eventful few weeks as Illini! We continued to start off our season on a positive note as we swept the competition at our Home Opener meet against Wisconsin- Eau Claire and Centenary College. We were excited to score a 196.175 in just our second meet of the season, along with seeing one of our sophomores, Giana O'Connor, take home her first career all-around title. Even though we can always find those little things to work on to improve our routines, we were very happy with our overall performance. Not only were we thrilled about performing well, we were also excited to get back into Huff Hall and compete in front of our home crowd again! It was great seeing everyone back on campus for the competition as our last few days of Winter Break came to an end. However, thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we had one more day before starting our second semester of classes for the year. Being a senior, along with Sarah and Amber, this made for a bittersweet moment beginning our last semester as undergrads here on Illinois's campus. As classes began and syllabus week took off into lectures and labs, we made sure to stay focused when we got to Kenney Gym each day for practice. Although we only had three practices this week, we were very productive making the little changes necessary in order to continue our success in Minnesota the following weekend.
Even though Minnesota is quite the haul from Champaign and the weather wasn't looking great, we were all very excited to get on the road for our next competition. We were especially antsy to get there because the See's were hosting our team for dinner that evening. As our long, 10-hour bus ride came to an end, we finally arrived at the See's home for a great home cooked meal! As some of the parents, along with Amber's family and dog, Dakota, greeted us at the door, we all immediately felt welcome in Amber's home. This evening, along with many other memories over the course of my time here at Illinois, really shows how strong the family environment is within our Illini Family! After a great meal, we made our way back into the snow and checked into our hotel for the night.
The following morning, we took our usual trip to the mall to get up and move around before the meet. Naturally, a majority of us left the mall with a few shopping bags in hand! After returning to the hotel we had a few hours to relax and then get ready for the meet!
As we entered Minnesota's Sports Pavilion, we knew it was going to be a great meet as we stood 11th and Minnesota 13th in the rankings. We were excited to compete against our second Big Ten team this season! Like any away meet, we started the competition on bars. Throughout the meet, we had a good performance. As a team, we had strong routines on three of our events in particular. Beam was a little wobbly, but I knew our beam line up would bounce back and be stronger than ever the next weekend. Some highlights from the meet include: Sarah's 9.825 on bars, Sunny's 9.875 on beam, and Amber's 9.925 on vault, with each girl winning the title on that particular event. Amber also beat her career high all-around score with a 39.350, which was amazing to see! I am also thrilled to share with you all that we had a new Illini exhibition for us on bars, MJ! She has been working harder than ever to come back from her Achilles' tear last season, so we are very proud to see her progress so quickly! Although there were a few bumps in our overall performance against Minnesota, we went to the gym and worked even harder for our next meet.
Last Friday, our fourth competition against the University of Iowa (how fast it goes!) was our annual pink meet! We wore our pink leos and ribbons to honor those who have been diagnosed in the past, are currently battling, or have fallen to breast cancer. We also had six special children who have been personally touched by breast cancer marched out with the team. This was very meaningful for all of us. Our momentum of the season continued as we got the "W" with a 196.475, a season high and the 6th best score in school history. Check out the highlights here.
Tomorrow, our Big Ten competition continues as we welcome the Michigan Wolverines to Huff Hall. We can't wait to see all of you in the stands.