Illini Claim Fourth Victory Plank Over Michigan State
Jan. 10, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Illinois women's gymnastics team utilized the third best beam performance in school history to start 2014 with a 195.325-194.150 win over Michigan State. The Orange and Blue have now won the Victory Plank trophy four times and have yet to surrender it to Michigan State since its creation in 2010. Today's winning score also marked the first time ever Illinois opened a season with a score above 195. Furthermore, the Illini took home individual titles on all four events.
"I think the girls did a great job today," said Illinois head coach Kim Landrus. "We started on bars and had some mistakes, but we then regrouped moving on to vault. Each rotation, I felt like we settled in better and we capped it off with a very solid beam performance."
Amber See delivered a strong 2014 debut for the Fighting Illini Friday evening. The veteran senior tallied a 39.250, which is the third highest all-around score in her career and was good for second place at today's meet. After scoring a 9.65 on bars, See claimed the vault title with a 9.85. See, who hit the 9.9 mark or higher four times in 2013, boosted the Illini with a first-place 9.9 performance on floor. See then finished her day by tying her career high of 9.85 on beam.
"Being a senior, Amber is determined to make this her best year yet, and that showed tonight," explained Landrus. "She has a lot of experience under her belt and she went out there and performed and took her job to heart. I'm very proud of her."
The Illini clinched the meet with a spectacular 49.275 on the balance beam. Not only is that mark the third highest beam score in school history, but also the highest score ever produced on an event in the opening month of Illinois gymnastics. Elizabeth McNabb led the way with a career high 9.875, as the senior took home her third career beam title. More impressively, four Illini followed suit in a tie for second place, with Sunny Kato, Sarah Fiedler, Emily Lennon and See all scoring a 9.85.
"Ending the meet on beam and turning in the performance they did tonight, really showed what they're capable of," stated Landrus. "We work a lot on our mental game and they went out and were tight minded and did their gymnastics like they do every day. It was great to see their calmness throughout all of their routines."
Illinois started the meet on bars and found itself trailing Michigan State after the first rotation 48.800-48.350. Jordan Naleway was the highlight here, as the junior took home her first collegiate bars title and set a new career high with a 9.825. Other standouts include McNabb (9.75) and Fiedler (9.725), who finished in third and fifth place, respectively.
The Orange and Blue overcame the Spartans in the second rotation after scoring a 48.775 on vault. O'Connor followed See with a 9.775 third place showing. Then freshman Erin Buchanan made her Illinois debut with a 9.775 as well. Fiedler (tied career high of 9.7) and sophomore Heather Foley (9.675) also added scores to the Illini's vault total.
Next, the Illini tallied a 48.925 on floor in its third rotation. Buchanan recorded yet another strong first performance, recording a 9.85 and finishing in third place. Rounding out the scoring here was Fiedler (9.75), O'Connor (9.725) and Naleway (9.7).
Finally, Fiedler scored a 39.025 in just her third-ever meet competing in the all-around, finishing in third place. O'Connor finished in fourth this evening with a 38.650.
Up next, the Illini return to Champaign for their home-opener inside Huff Hall next weekend. Illinois will compete against Centenary College and Wisconsin Eau Claire at 4 p.m. on Jan. 18.