The Illini won the State of Illinois Classic for the fifth year in a row.
March 17, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - On Saturday at Huff Hall, No. 22 Illinois captured its fifth-consecutive State of Illinois Classic crown with a season-high score of 196.150. The Illini, who turned in the high score on all four events, took the top spot among the four Division I programs from the state, placing ahead of runner-up UIC (194.550), Illinois State (194.350) and Northern Illinois (193.050). Orange and Blue gymnasts were among the winners on all four events along with sweeping the top two spots in the all-around.
"We competed really well today," head coach Kim Landrus said. "We had a mistake at the start of the lineup on bars and beam, but we bounced back on our next five routines on both those events to do what we do every day in the gym, so that was great to see. It was an even effort on all four events with a good start on vault and scores over 49 on the next three events."
Junior Alina Weinstein tied the seventh-best all-around score in school history with a career-high 39.425 to win her fourth AA title of the season, while senior Kelsey Joannides secured second by equaling her career best with a 39.375. Weinstein also tied for first on vault (9.825) with sophomore Amber See and shared top honors on bars (9.875) with junior Jaclyn Kantecki. Joannides, who now owns the fifth-most event titles by an Illini in a season with 18, placed first on beam and floor with a 9.900 on each.
"Alina and Kelsey have been our one-two punch all year," Landrus said. "They just continue to come to the competitions and do what they do in practice every day. It was great to see, but I expect it out of them every weekend because I know it is what they are capable of. They are both great all-around gymnasts."
Illinois opened the contest with a 48.900 on vault, paced by the pair of 9.825s from Weinstein and See. Junior Elise Gill finished fourth with a 9.775 followed by Joannides in a tie for fifth at 9.750. Kantecki rounded out the scoring on the event with a 9.725.
The Illini then matched a season high on bars with a 49.025, as Kantecki, who notched a career-best 9.875, and Weinstein each took home their third title on the event this season. Joannides tied for fifth with a 9.825 and was followed by freshman Jordan Naleway (9.750) and sophomore Sarah Fiedler (9.700).
On balance beam, the Orange and Blue earned the top four scores on the event on their way to a 49.025. Joannides' 9.900 notched her seventh beam title this year, while Weinstein (9.850) and sophomore Elizabeth McNabb (9.800) placed second and third, respectively. Fiedler tied for fourth with a 9.750 and Kantecki added a 9.725.
In the meet's final rotation, Illinois sealed the victory by tying a season high on floor with a 49.200. Joannides matched a personal-best 9.900 to tie for first, while Weinstein and See tied for third at 9.875. Gill equaled a career high with a 9.825 to tie for fifth, and senior Hannah Welker and Fiedler each had a 9.725.
The meet victory gives the Illini their 10th State of Illinois Classic title, marking the most by any of the four schools since 1991. UIC is second with seven victories followed by NIU with three and ISU with two. The Orange and Blue also scored over a 196 for the first time this season and notched a mark over 195 for the eight time in 11 meets.
"Scoring over a 196 has been one of our goals all year, so it is great that we are able to achieve that," Landrus said. "We need to carry that momentum into Big Tens and just take it one event at a time when we get there to put together a full meet."
Up Next: Illinois will compete at the 2012 Big Ten Championships in Iowa City, Iowa, on Saturday, March 24. With the addition of Nebraska, the conference championship meet will consist of two sessions with four teams in each. The first session will begin at 1 p.m. followed by the second session at 6 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.