Illini Debut with 3rd Place Finish in Arizona
Jan. 12, 2013
TUCSON, Ariz. – At Saturday evening's season opening quad meet inside the McKale center, the No. 18 Fighting Illini women's gymnastics team finished third with a score of 193.750, behind No. 6 Stanford (196.025) and host No. 19 Arizona (195.850) and in front of San Jose State (192.550). 2012 Nationals qualifier Alina Weinstein paved the way for the Orange and Blue, finishing in second place in the All-Around with a score of 39.175, 0.300 behind leader Aubree Cristello from Arizona.
"Alina did a great job today, going four-for-four. She's a competitor and made sure she took care of business and did not let anything rattle her," said Illinois head coach Kim Landrus.
In the season's first event, Illinois totaled a 48.250 on the balance beam and were led by newcomer O'Connor. The Streamwood native posted a 9.825, tying for fourth in the event. Weinstein, who finished seventh, scored a 9.750, while sophomores Kelsi Eberly and Sunny Kato just cracked the top-10, both scoring a 9.725.
"Starting the season off on beam was invaluable experience that I think we will learn from down the road," continued Landrus. "In our first routine, we suffered a fall, so the rest of the beam team had to rise to the challenge. I was proud of the way O'Connor and Kato handled their first routine in an Illini leotard. They stuck to the plan and did what they knew how to do."
The Orange and Blue moved to floor next, where their event high on the day of 48.600 was fueled by Weinstein's 9.825. Weinstein's score led the squad and resulted in a fifth place finish in the event. Sarah Fiedler and Amber See followed suit with a 9.725 and 9.700 respectively. Also counting scores on the floor exercise were Eberly and O'Connor, who both scored a 9.675.
During the third rotation, the trio of Weinstein, O'Connor and See all recorded scores of 9.700 or higher on the vault to help score a team total of 48.400. Weinstein once again led for the Illini, tying for third with a score of 9.775. Furthermore, O'Connor finished in seventh with a 9.750 while See's vault earned her a 9.700. Rounding out the scoring was senior Jaclyn Kantecki's 9.625 and Elizabeth McNabb's 9.550.
To conclude the meet, the Illini turned in a 48.500 on the uneven bars, paced by junior Sarah Fiedler's career high 9.850, which resulted in a fourth place finish in the event. Following right behind her was Weinstein's seventh place showing with a 9.825. Third for the Orange and Blue was Kantecki's 9.775. Also, Jordan Naleway just missed tying her career high on bars (9.775), posting a 9.750 today.
"It's always nice to get the first meet under your belt," said Landrus. "There's a lot of room to grow and this is a talented group of girls who are ready to compete and get after it. We had too many mistakes today and as a team we have to learn how to click the reset button and leave everything behind us when a routine does not go as planned. Today we let it affect us which is something we can not do. We have a very strong Michigan team next weekend, but I am confident the girls are not satisfied and will get back in the gym and work on all the details for Saturday."
Next up, the Illini will continue on the road, when they travel to Ann Arbor for a Big Ten showdown with the Michigan Wolverines on Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. CT. The meet will be aired live on the Big Ten Network.