Sophomore Amber See sealed the Illini victory with a 9.900 on floor and won the event title for the fourth-stright meet.
Feb. 4, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - After two weeks on the road, No. 19 Illinois returned home on Saturday and posted its season-best score with a 195.700-195.575 victory over No. 11 Ohio State. The Illini turned in season highs on vault (48.925) and bars (49.025) before closing the contest with solid showings on beam (48.775) and floor (48.975). Senior Kelsey Joannides and sophomore Amber See tied for the all-around crown at 39.175, and Illini gymnasts took home individual titles on bars, beam and floor.
"It was a good meet overall," head coach Kim Landrus said. "We made big improvements on vault during the week and it showed as we continued to make strides today. We carried that momentum to bars with a season high and then started off great on beam and finished strong on floor to get the win. We had four great days of practice this week and really focused on those areas we needed to improve on to be competitive against the best teams in the nation and the Big Ten."
With the meet on the line and the Illini needing a 9.800 or better to clinch the win, See sealed the victory with a 9.900 in the final floor routine and picked up the event title for the fourth-consecutive meet to start the season. The Minnetonka, Minn., native scored a 9.900 for the third meet in a row and has notched a score of 9.800 or higher at each of the last 10 meets dating back to last season.
"If there was one person we want to compete last on floor in a clutch situation, it would be Amber," Landrus said. "She loves to perform and compete as our anchor. I'm not sure if she knew that she needed to hit it big, but she has delivered in that sixth position all year and did it again today."
In just her third time competing in the all-around, See nabbed her first career title with a personal-best 39.175, tying with Joannides and OSU's Colleen Dean. Along with matching a season high on floor, she equaled a career high on beam (9.850) to tie for first, landed her vault for a season-high 9.750 and had a 9.675 on bars.
"I am very proud of Amber," Landrus said. "I always knew if we could get her on four events, she would be a consistent competitor for us. Last week was very uncharacteristic for her, but she got back in the gym and worked really hard to make sure it wasn't going to happen again."
Joannides won her second all-around crown of the year and set a career-high 9.900 on bars to take the title and give the senior a team-leading seven victories on the season. The Frederick, Md., native also shared the runner-up spot on floor with junior Alina Weinstein at 9.825, tied for fifth on vault with a 9.775 and had a 9.675 on beam.
"We knew we had work to do from last week and everyone held strong on all four events to help us accomplish the goals we set," Joannides said. "I have been working with Jay (Santos) on bars and everything just clicked today. We had a really good meet, but know that we can continue to clean up the little things to see our score go even higher."
In total, the Illini set or tied six individual career highs during the meet. Sophomore Elizabeth McNabb earned her first-ever event title, tying for the top spot on beam with a career-high 9.850. Junior Elise Gill landed the best vault of her career with a 9.850 to place second on the event and finished fourth on floor with a 9.800. Senior Hannah Welker came away with her top finish on bars, securing second with a career-high 9.850. Sophomore Sarah Fiedler tied her career best with w 9.825 to give Illinois the top three spots on the event and the team's third score of 49 or higher this season.
Up Next: Illinois will compete at a loaded quadrangular meet featuring four nationally ranked squads at Navy Pier in Chicago, Ill. The Illini will square off against No. 7 UCLA, No. 16 Boise State and No. 17 Missouri on Friday, Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m.