Weinstein's Historic Night Spurs Illini Rally
Feb. 16, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - In front of a Gym Jam record crowd of 2,316 fans, the #21 University of Illinois women's gymnastics team rallied on the final rotation to edge out the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes by a tenth of a point, 195.975-195.875. The Orange and Blue were fueled by senior Alina Weinstein, who earned her place in Illini history, as she broke both the school all-around and floor records.
"It's exciting," said Weinstein. "I've always dreamed to be hanging with the record setters of Illinois and to say that I can be up there now is really humbling."
"Alina is a great performer and athlete," said Illinois head coach Kim Landrus. "She is super talented, and it's always nice to see her reach her potential."
The Plainsboro, N.J. native recorded a 9.875 on the first three events, setting a new season high on bars in the process. Going fifth on floor and the team trailing, the Illini needed and got a near perfect score from Weinstein. The senior broke the floor record with a 9.975, which also catapulted her all-around score to a 39.600. Furthermore, Weinstein took home the individual titles on vault, beam, floor and the all-around.
"Floor was thrilling," continued Weinstein. "I've been working really hard in the gym to save all those deductions from myself. To go out there and perform like that was so much fun."
Now, Illinois entered the final rotation down 147.575-146.825 after recording a 48.700 on beam compared to Iowa's 49.150 on floor. In addition, Iowa had led the entire way, starting off strong with a 49.200 on bars and a 49.225 on vault. To add to the dramatic events of the day, proven Illinois veteran Amber See fell on her exhibition routine on bars, forcing her to leave the competition due to injury halfway through the meet.
However, the door opened when two out of the first three Hawkeyes fell on beam, thus having to count a low score as they eventually totaled a 48.300 on their final event.
Next, the Orange and Blue showed consistency right out of the gate as Kelsi Eberly, Jordan Naleway and Sarah Fiedler all posted a 9.775 on floor. Then, freshman Giana O'Connor delivered a strong routine for the Illini as she tied her career high of 9.850. Combined with Weinstein's record score, Illinois totaled a 49.150 on floor and took the overall meet to stay undefeated at home.
"We talk to our athletes all the time bout how every tenth is so important and we saw first hand today how true that message is," said Landrus.
The Illini also shown bright today on bars, where they produced a season high 49.250. Sophomore Sunny Kato's career high of 9.900 earned the sophomore her first individual title on the event and her second title of the season. Sarah Fiedler followed suit in a tie for third with a 9.875, with the junior achieving a new career high. Furthermore, Jaclyn Kantecki tied her season high on bars with a 9.825 as Giana O'Connor also joined the fun by setting a new career high of 9.775.
The Orange and Blue started the meet on vault where they scored a 48.875. O'Connor posted a 9.800 followed by Kantecki and See, both with a 9.750. Sarah Fiedler performed her first vault of the season and contributed a 9.700, the same score as freshman Heather Foley.
Thus, Fiedler competed in the all-around for the first time in an Illinois leotard. Fiedler finished the day with three new career highs, including a 39.125 in the all-around.
"Sarah had been working on her vault for awhile and this week was the week to do it," stated Landrus. "I couldn't be more proud of her all-around debut."