Sunny Kato took home individual titles on both bars and beam Friday night.
Jan. 31, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It might be white outside, but there was plenty of pink inside Huff Hall Friday night for the Fighting Illini's Pink Meet vs Iowa. Illinois delighted the home crowd with a strong 196.475-195.050 win over the Hawkeyes. The score tied the sixth highest mark in program history, and the season high from a year ago.
"It feels great. We came out and we scored over 49 on all four events," said Illinois head coach Kim Landrus. "I saw a lot of great performances, I saw some fight out there and I saw a lot of stuck dismounts. Overall, I'm happy. This team has set high standards for the year and because of this I want to make sure we learn from the mistakes we made tonight. If we do that, it'll definitely help us down the road."
The Illini got off to a fantastic start, recording a season high 49.025 on vault. Freshman Erin Buchanan was awarded her first collegiate vault title after scoring a career high 9.875. Fellow freshman Emily Lennon also impressed, improving her vault score for the fourth straight week to tally a career best 9.825.
The Pink Illini then tied the fourth best bars score in school history with a 49.250. Not a single gymnast scored below a 9.825 as Sarah Fiedler (9.875), Elizabeth McNabb (9.825), Amber See (9.825), Jordan Naleway (9.825) and Giana O'Connor (9.850) all either tied or set new career highs. Furthermore, Fiedler and Sunny Kato (9.875) tied for first place and took home their second respective titles on bars this year.
Illinois moved to the balance beam next where they encountered a fall from its first competitor. However, the Illini seemed unfazed from the pressure of having to count the next five scores as they posted a 49.025, their third score over 49 on beam this season. McNabb and Kato led the squad here and took first with a 9.9. The score tied Kato's career high while it represented the highest marks ever received in McNabb's career.
The Illini then capped its night with yet another score above 49, this time a 49.175 on floor exercise. Senior Amber See earned her second floor title of the year after achieving a score of 9.9 for the third time this season. Buchanan and O'Connor rounded out the top-three with a 9.875 and 9.850, respectively.
At the conclusion of the meet, See was awarded her first all-around title of the season, third in her career, with a 39.325. It marked the second straight week See scored higher than a 39.3.
Be sure to catch all of these amazing performances and the Illini celebrate a worthy cause when the meet airs Saturday morning at 9 a.m. CT on the Big Ten Network.