Senior Sarah Schmidt tallied a career high in the all-around with a 39.425 at her final home meet, which tied the fourth-best mark in school history.
March 13, 2010
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - On Senior Day, No. 13 Illinois scored over a 49 on each event for the first time this season and defeated No. 14 Missouri, 196.200-195.500, in front of 1,569 fans at Huff Hall. The Illini trailed by .075 heading into the final rotation, but posted a solid 49.075 on floor to overcome the Tigers, who counted a fall on beam and recorded a 48.300.
"There are always some emotional feelings when competing at your last home event, but overall the energy was good this afternoon," head coach Bob Starkell said. "I liked how we finished off strong on floor because Missouri is a good team, and we were pretty evenly matched the whole day."
The Orange and Blue did not count a fall and were consistent all afternoon while winning event titles on floor and beam, tying the Tigers on vault and barely dropping the bars battle. Junior Melissa Fernandez matched her career-best score with a 9.925 to tie for first on bars, and fellow junior Allison Buckley took home the floor crown with a 9.900, giving her 38 career event titles and moving her into a tie for third with Denise Lamborn on the UI all-time list.
Senior Sarah Schmidt saved her best for last, tallying a career high in the all-around with a 39.425 at her final home meet to finish second behind Missouri All-American Sarah Shire (39.550). Fernandez was third in the all-around with a 39.300 and senior Nicole Cowart was fifth with a 39.075. Schmidt also tied the fourth-best mark in school history with her performance, which gives her three of the top-eight all-around scores in UI history.
"Sarah did well on her strong events, but she also did very well on her weaker events," Starkell said. "She has spent a lot of time working on her vault and beam with the coaches, which has helped her get into a solid all-around position."
Illinois started the night off strong with a 49.075 on vault, as they scored over a 49 on the event for the first time in three meets. Schmidt led the way with a career-high 9.850 on the event to tie for second, while Buckley finished tied for fourth with a 9.825. A trio of Illini, Cowart, Fernandez and sophomore Kelsey Jonnides, each tied for sixth with a 9.800 to round out the scoring. After the opening rotation, the Illini were behind by .025, as the Tigers tallied a 49.100 on bars.
On the uneven bars, the Illini recorded a 49.050 and were led by Fernandez, who won her fifth bars title and 11th crown overall on the year. Schmidt finished alone in third with a 9.875 followed by freshman Jaclyn Kantecki, who bounced back from a fall on vault to score a career-high 9.825 and tie for fourth. Cowart (9.725) and Buckley (9.700) finished up the scoring for the Illini, who fell behind by .050 after two rotations.
The Illini turned in a 49.000 on beam, as four Illini tied for second with a 9.825. Junior Samantha Perino and Cowart both matched their career highs with that score while Schmidt and Fernandez were the other two Illini to fill the runner-up position. Joannides turned in a 9.700 to wrap up the scoring and keep the meet close with one event left.
In the final rotation, Illinois shined on floor while Missouri struggled on beam. Buckley, who kept pace with Fernandez for the team lead with her 11th crown on the season, tied her season high with a 9.900 and led the Illini to a 49.075. Schmidt tied for second with a 9.875 while Joannides tied for fifth with a 9.800. Perino and Fernandez each scored 9.750s to round out the scoring.
Illinois took down its third ranked opponent this season and now has scored over a 196 five times, with all five ranking in the top 10 on the UI all-time list.
"Today was a good learning lesson because it showed us that we have to continue to work hard everyday and show up at the meet," Starkell said. "I was pleased to see that when someone did make a mistake, we rebounded pretty quickly and were able to adjust and take care of business."
Up Next: Illinois heads to Normal, Ill., for the State of Illinois Classic on March 20 at 5 p.m. The quad meet features the Illini along with Illinois-Chicago, Illinois State and Northern Illinois and serves as the unofficial state championship. The Orange and Blue have won the event the last two years.