Sunny Kato achieved her first career event title, tying for first on beam with a score of 9.875
Jan. 19, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – In the first Big Ten Network gymnastics televised event of the season, the Fighting Illini improved their team score from last week by 1.350, posting a 195.100 inside the Crisler Center this afternoon. However, No. 2 Michigan prevailed, scoring a 197.350, the second highest score posted in the NCAA so far this season. Individually, Sunny Kato produced a career day, emerging with her first event title as she tied for first on balance beam with a career high 9.875. In addition, Kato co-led the squad on bars with a career high of 9.825.
"Today was a great step for our team," said Illinois head coach Kim Landrus. "This week we focused a lot on the little details along with consistency. On both bars and beam, the girls did an excellent job of carrying that over to the meet. I definitely saw improvements on vault as well. However, we need to make sure that we put four great events on the competition floor every weekend."
Illinois finished the meet strong on beam, where they scored a 49.250, the third highest total on beam in school history. After having to count a fall last weekend, the Illini went six-for-six and edged out the Wolverines in the event by a margin of 0.025. Elizabeth McNabb and Kelsi Eberly led off on beam as they both scored a 9.850, tying a career high for McNabb while setting a new one for Eberly. Giana O'Connor continued the beam success as she posted another 9.850 for the Orange and Blue, while Alina Weinstein added a 9.825. Sunny Kato drove it home for the Illini and secured the event victory with her 9.875.
"After floor we talked about putting the event behind us," said Landrus. "The message to the team was to attack the beam and own it. They definitely did that. Watching them on beam, you could tell the mindset had been changed. They were not going to let anything get in their way of wrapping up the meet on a high note."
The Illini started the day with a 48.950 on bars, led by a 9.825 from Kato and Weinstein, as they tied for fifth place. Senior Jaclyn Kantecki followed right behind with a 9.800, while Jordan Naleway and Giana O'Connor rounded out the scoring with a 9.750.
During the second rotation, Illinois came away with a 48.600 on vault, with the two freshmen in Giana O'Connor and Heather Foley recording new career highs. O'Connor and Weinstein led the Illini with a 9.775 each. Both See and Foley produced scores of 9.700 while Kantecki achieved a 9.650.
Next, the Illini moved to floor where they received a temporary setback when their first two gymnasts fell. Yet, Illinois put that memory far behind them as three of the next four gymnasts achieved career high scores. Alina Weinstein led the squad with a career best 9.925, the highest score of the day for Illinois. Also securing career highs were Jordan Naleway (9.675) and Giana O'Connor (9.725). Amber See rounded out the scoring with her 9.850.
Illinois had three gymnasts in the all-around competition this afternoon. Alina Weinstein improved her score from last weekend by 0.175, when the senior finished third with a 39.350, just 0.100 points off of her career best set at the NCAA Champaign Regional last year. Giana O'Connor also displayed improvement with a career high all-around score of 39.100. Finally, Amber See competed in the all-around for the first time since the UIC meet last February. Today, See posted a 38.925.
Up Next: Illinois returns to Chamapign for it's home opener on Saturday, Jan. 26, when they welcome Michigan State for their annual Pink Meet. The contest is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT inside Huff Hall.