#19 Illini Make Strides in Loss to #22 Penn State
March 2, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Despite missing out on six routines they utilized last weekend, the #19 University of Illinois women's gymnastics team not only made adjustments but also made strides by improving upon last week's score (195.450) by tallying a 195.775, which was also above their season average. In addition, the Illini scored above a 49 in both vault and floor as senior Alina Weinstein captured event titles in both. However, #22 Penn State walked away with the win after posting a 196.300.
"Today really showed who we could be," said Illinois head coach Kim Landrus. "We had two events over 49 and two events close to that mark. This team has the ability to do something special and we'll have to go back in the gym and really work on being stronger and making sure we get the job done every weekend."
Illinois started the afternoon on vault, where they turned their lowest score from the previous meet to their best one of the day. The Orange and Blue tallied a season high 49.075 on the event. Weinstein, who anchored the rotation, stuck her vault and recorded a new career high of 9.925 to claim her second vault title of the season.
Jaclyn Kantecki and Giana O'Conor achieved the next highest scores as they both tallied a 9.825. The mark tied O'Connor's career high on the event. Next, Amber See returned to the lineup to add a 9.775, while Heather Foley rounded out the score with a 9.725.
Illinois then moved to bars where they tallied a 48.875. The Fighting Illini were led by Kantecki, who finished her solid day by posting another 9.825, which tied her career high in the event and was good for second place. Also continuing her strong start to the meet was O'Connor, as the freshman achieved a new career high of 9.800 in her fourth place showing. In addition, See conquered the event in which she was injured in against Iowa, by setting a new season high of 9.750, the same score as Weinstein and Jordan Naleway.
In the third rotation, Illinois' beam score of 48.775 was fueled by Weinstein's 9.850. The score almost earned the senior another title, but the New Jersey native had to settle for second. Sunny Kato bounced back in her second event as the sophomore finished fourth with a 9.825. O'Connor and Elizabeth McNabb followed with a 9.750 and 9.700, respectively. Then, Heather Foley performed her first collegiate beam routine and accomplished a 9.65.
Next, for the third straight time at home, and fourth overall, the Illini finished on floor with a score above a 49. This time the Orange and Blue achieved a 49.050, once again paced by the title-winning efforts of Alina Weinstein and her 9.900. Weinstein has now won the floor title in the past four meets, dating back to Feb. 9 at Minnesota.
In her fourth and final event of the day, junior Amber See recorded her highest score with a 9.85, which resulted in a fourth place finish. Furthermore, Giana O'Connor scored above a 9.8 for the third time today, tallying a 9.825. In her third straight meet performing on floor, freshman Heather Foley achieved a 9.750. Finally, Jordan Naleway and Tori Fujinami scored a 9.725, with Fujinami performing her first official routine in an Illini leotard.
"I think we did a good job but we're capable of being great," said Alina Weinstein. "We need to focus on how we approach practice and the meets, and we need to elevate our standards."
Weinstein now has 30 career individual titles in her illustrious four years at Illinois and still counting. The 30-mark moves the senior into sole possession of eighth place on the all time career title list. Next up sits Kim Berres in seventh with 32 titles and former teammate Kelsey Joannides in sixth with 33.
For her efforts today, Weinstein finished second in the all-around with a 39.425. In addition, Giana O'Connor almost tied her career high (39.250) by scoring a 39.200. Last but certainly not least, Amber See's second appearance in the all-around resulted in a season high of 38.975.
Up next, the Illini must prepare for two meets in the same weekend as they first travel to Columbia, Mo., to take on the Missouri Tigers on Friday, March 8, at 6:30 p.m. CT. Then Illinois returns home for Senior Day on Sunday, March 10, when they host Ball State and UIC at 2 p.m. CT.