Illini Ink - Suren Kanchanavaleerat

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lini Ink - The yearly journal that takes you behind the scenes of the Illinois women's gymnastics team. In the final entry, freshman Suren Kanchanavaleerat wraps the Illini's season at Nationals and talks about the team's end of the year banquet.  

Hello Illini fans!

We have had a hefty weekend going to NCAA Nationals! Being a freshman, I could only anticipate thrill and excitement! It was quite an adventure.

To start, we flew out of Indy to get to Alabama. And guess who we saw there? By surprise, we got the opportunity to meet Snoop Dogg and took a team picture with him. Little did we know, it was only the beginning of an exciting weekend.

The first thing that happened in Alabama was the NCAA Banquet. With the beautiful Alabama sunshine, we got lots of good pictures of the team and even got to meet some old friends. At the banquet, we had a guest singer, American Idol winner Taylor Hicks. He performed awesome music, sharing some of his original country tunes. Wrapping up with his harmonica and piano accompanist, he gave a powerful finish with "Timber" by Kesha. The performance was amazing!

Now let me get started on NCAA's. Competing in the noon time session, we began with a bye before bars. After warming up and marching in, all of us could hardly wait to get out on the competition floor. We got mentally ready by doing our chanting rituals to get pumped up before bars.

After our bye, we marched out to bars with excitement and zeal. Everyone felt the adrenaline and awe of the atmosphere. We went out and did our job, completing bars with a high 48. Being happy with our overall performance, we directed our attention to beam. As exciting as it is to compete, it's important to keep your nerves in control to have a stellar beam performance. One routine at a time, we had strong finishes and stuck dismounts. We finished with another high 48 on beam. After, we transitioned into a bye before floor.

Transitioning into our bye, we played a team game. But it wasn't too long until we were out and running again to compete floor. We used our anticipation and enthusiasm to show off those floor routines. Hitting six for six, we celebrated as we moved onto vault.

By our last event, the energy on our team had grown exponentially. We were cheering for each other to the point where we wouldn't be able to speak, and competed out of the love of the sport. Cheering and giving high-fives after the six vaults, we finished vault with a 49.075 adding to a team total of 195.8, marking our highest NCAA Championship score in school history

Coming back from Nationals, we had a brief break. But soon after, we had one last banquet to commemorate our season and celebrate our seniors. As our coaches gave recognition to our team's hard work and remarkable season, we could only reflect our dedication and persistence that brought us to where we are. And last but not least, we celebrated our seniors. They gave wonderful speeches about their athletic experiences at the University of Illinois. I have to say, our team wouldn't be the same without them, because they led the way for our team to rewrite history this year. They will be truly missed, because without them our team would not have been "limitless."

With the abrupt end to the semester underway, all of us are studying for finals and wrapping up the school year.  However, we are enjoying some volunteer practices in Kenny Gym.  Even though we have ended our season, our goals in the off season will prepare us with for a successful 2015 season.



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