Junior Melissa Fernandez won the all-around by resetting her career high (39.275) for the third straight week at the IGI Chicago Style Invite.
Feb. 12, 2010
CHICAGO - Junior Melissa Fernandez won the all-around by resetting her career high (39.275) for the third straight week, as the No. 20 Illini took third at the IGI Chicago Style Invitational on Friday night at Navy Pier. No. 10 Nebraksa placed first with a 196.475 followed by No. 19 Denver in second with a 195.250. Illinois tallied a 194.225 to finish in front of Iowa, who came in fourth with a 193.625. Fernandez also picked up the crown on balance beam with a 9.850.
"Melissa is a strong competitor," head coach Bob Starkell said. "She did not compete in the all-around much before this year, but now she is starting to gain more confidence and is taking advantage of her opportunity each time she competes.
"Our team started strong and finished strong, but had some uncharacteristic falls on bars. We will learn from this and continue to move forward."
The Illini were firing on all cylinders to start the night, posting a season-best 49.150 on vault and tying the fifth-best mark in school history. Senior Allison Buckley, who ranks 11th in the nation on the event, led the way with a 9.875 and placed second, while senior Nicole Cowart (9.850), Fernandez (9.850) and sophomore Kelsey Joannides (9.825) each matched their season highs. Cowart and Fernandez tied for fifth and Joannides was seventh. Freshman Jaclyn Kantecki added a 9.750 and senior Sarah Schmidt rounded out the scoring with a 9.725, giving Illinois a three tenths of a point lead after the first rotation.
On the uneven bars, the Orange and Blue were forced to count a pair of falls and fell into fourth place after scoring a 47.300. Fernandez tallied a third-place finish to lead the Illini with a 9.800, while freshman Alina Weinstein notched a career-high 9.750 and took ninth. Cowart was the next finisher at 9.625, but falls from Buckley and Kantecki rounded out the scoring.
Illinois rebounded on beam with a 48.725, but remained in fourth place after three rotations. Fernandez tied for first place to pace the Illini effort, and Buckley was the next best with 9.775 to take ninth place. Junior Samantha Perino, Schmidt and Joannides each turned in a 9.700 on the event.
In the meet's final rotation, the Illini finished strong with a 49.050 on floor to jump in front of Iowa and place third in the overall standings. Cowart turned in a season-high 9.850 to lead the Illini with a third-place finish. Joannides matched her season best with a 9.825 and took seventh, while Perino eclipsed her career high with a 9.800 to tie for ninth with Buckley. Fernandez wrapped up the Illini scoring in the event with a 9.775.
On the night, Illinois posted the second-best team scores on vault and floor, but failed to improve its team score from the previous meet, which they had done at every meet before tonight. Cowart was the second-best Illini in the all-around, placing fifth with a 38.950.
Up Next: Illinois hosts No. 22 Michigan State at Huff Hall on Sunday, Feb. 14. at 2 p.m., which is the third annual "Think Pink" meet for breast cancer awareness.