#21 Illini Come Up Short Against Kentucky on Senior Night
March 2, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - On Senior Night at Huff Hall, No. 21 Illinois scored its second-highest total of the season, but came up short against Kentucky, 195.950-195.750. The Illini saw gymnasts earn the top spot on all four events while senior Kelsey Joannides and junior Alina Weinstein shared top honors in the all-around at 39.250. As a team, the Orange and Blue turned in season highs on vault (48.975) and beam (49.175).
"We started off strong and had three really great events, but had a few slip-ups on floor that unfortunately cost us the meet," head coach Kim Landrus said. "Our beam team was focused and mentally in it the entire time. They really nailed every line and every skill. The takeaway message from the meet is that we need to finish it off at the end."
A stellar season-high performance on beam tied the fourth-best score in school history with a 49.175. Joannides captured her fifth beam crown of the year with a career-high 9.925, tying the fourth-best individual mark in program history. Weinstein grabbed the runner-up spot with a personal-best 9.875, and sophomore Elizabeth McNabb tied for third at 9.825. Sophomore Amber See had a 9.800 and junior Jaclyn Kantecki wrapped up scoring with a 9.750.
"This is exactly what I expected of Kelsey tonight," Landrus said. "She brings what she does in practice every day to the competition floor."
The Illini started the meet off with a bang, recording a season-high 48.975 on vault. Weinstein's career-best 9.875 earned her the first vault title of her career and the fourth this season by an Illini gymnast. Junior Elise Gill tied for fourth with a 9.825 while a 9.775 by Joannides and a pair of 9.750s by junior Jaclyn Kantecki and sophomore Amber See rounded out the scoring.
On uneven bars, Illinois hit all six of its routines for the second time this season and totaled a 48.900. Weinstein tied for the top spot with a 9.850 while Kantecki took third with a 9.800. Freshman Jordan Naleway competed for the first time in the lineup and earned a 9.775 to tie for fourth. Sophomore Sarah Fiedler had a 9.750 while McNabb and Joannides each had a 9.725.
"It was really key to hit all of our routines on bars," Landrus said. "Last week we had a rough bar rotation, so to come back the way we did tonight really says a lot about the team. We knew Jordan would be a strong contributor on the event when we recruited her, and I'm glad she made it into the lineup and performed well."
To close out the meet, the Illini finished with a 48.700 on floor, as sophomore Amber See tied for first with a 9.850 to nab her sixth floor title of the year. Joannides placed third at 9.825 and was followed by Fiedler (9.700), freshman Kelsi Eberly (9.675) and Weinstein (9.650).
Joannides and Welker were recognized during a Senior Night ceremony following the meet. The competition was the final home dual meet of the year for the duo.
"Since we still host the State of Illinois Classic and an NCAA Regional, I am not going to think of this as a last for them," Landrus said. "This is a celebration for our seniors who have meant a lot to us over the past four years and were a part of the first two national appearances in school history."
Up Next: Illinois will go on the road for its final dual meet of the season at Western Michigan on Sunday, March 11 at noon.