Giana O'Connor earned her first collegiate floor title after tying her career high of 9.900
Feb. 15, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Illinois women's gymnastics team posted a season high 196.500 on Saturday afternoon at Penn State, tying the sixth highest score in school history. It was the highest score since March 12, 2011, when the Illini set the all-time program record of 196.975. Despite the 196.675-196.500 loss to the Nittany Lions, Illinois can proudly boast that they have already set two top-10 program records this season.
"Prior to the meet, we talked to the team about the task at hand...one and done," Illinois head coach Kim Landrus said. "Go out and compete with the confidence that we practice with every day. They responded and did not let any distractions phase them. Finishing the meet strong on beam in a close competition was important for us. I'm confident we will use this as momentum for our upcoming meets."
Illinois produced a great start on the uneven bars recording a 49.100, their third score above a 49 on the apparatus this season. Sunny Kato set the tone when she finished in first place and collected her third bars title of the year. The junior tied her career high of 9.9 for the second time this season and for the fourth time in her career.
The Illini also recorded a three-way tie for fifth place on bars, as Sarah Fiedler, Jordan Naleway, Elizabeth McNabb all scored a 9.825, with the latter two tying their career high. The score was the fourth time Naleway has hit a 9.825 this season and the third time Fiedler has hit the mark as well.
Next, Illinois recorded its second highest vault score of the season with a 48.975. Amber See and Erin Buchanan tied for second place with a 9.850, as See has yet to score below a 9.8 on vault this season. Emily Lennon finished in fifth place as she tied her career high of 9.825, while Sarah Fiedler finally got over the hump on vault. After five straight weeks of a 9.700, Fiedler posted a career best 9.725 this afternoon.
With both teams scoring well through the halfway point, the Illini needed a big score on floor, and that's exactly what they got. The Orange and Blue's 49.250 tied its highest score of the season. Sophomore Giana O'Connor claimed her first collegiate floor title after tying her career high 9.900. It marked the second time O'Connor scored a 9.9 this season and the third overall.
Buchanan followed right behind with a 9.875 in a tie for third place. The freshman has yet to score below a 9.825 this season. Illinois also counted scores from See (9.850), Kelsi Eberly (9.825) and Naleway (9.800). Eberly set a new career high while Naleway tied her career high set back at the 2013 NCAA Championships.
Thus, Illinois led Penn State 147.325-147.300, its highest score through three rotations this season. With the meet up for grabs, the Illini tied its sixth highest beam score in program history with a 49.175. Lennon collected her first ever collegiate title with a career high 9.900. In addition, Kato and Fiedler tied for third with a 9.850, with the latter tying her career high on beam.
Unfortunately for Illinois, Penn State ended the meet strong as well with a 49.325 on floor, obtaining victory with a 196.675. The Nittany Lions were powered by the top-three all-arounders in the meet in Sidney Sanabria-Robles (39.425), Kassidy Stauder (39.400) and Krystal Welsh (39.275).
Fiedler was the top Illinois finisher, as the senior came in fourth place. Fiedler recorded a career high 39.200, besting her previous high of 39.125 set back on Feb. 16, 2013. See recorded a 39.100 while O'Connor tallied a 39.125, her second highest score of the season.
Up next, the Orange and Blue will gear up for their annual double dip weekend where they'll compete in two meets in a span of three days. First up is the State of Illinois Classic in Normal, Ill., at 7 p.m. on Feb. 21. Then Illinois concludes the weekend on Feb. 23, with a home tri-meet vs. Ohio State and Central Michigan at 2 p.m. inside Huff Hall.