Senior Kelsey Joannides tied for the top spot on beam to earn her second career Big Ten title.
March 24, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa - In her final conference meet, senior Kelsey Joannides won her second career Big Ten title, tying for first on beam with Nebraska's Emily Wong at 9.900. Joannides also turned in a career-best performance in the all-around with a 39.400 to tie for third overall and lead No. 23 Illinois to a fifth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Illini were the runner-up in the afternoon session with their second-best score this season of 195.850, which was just .025 behind Michigan (195.875) for the top spot.
"The team came in and did a great job from start to finish," head coach Kim Landrus said. "They really focused on getting all those little tenths with stuck landings to help us achieve our second highest score this season. We came in to win the session and just fell a little bit short, but everyone did their job today. I am really happy for Kelsey to go out with a Big Ten title in her last conference meet."
Joannides, who won the Big Ten title on vault as a freshman, earned the 13th individual conference crown in school history and is the first two-time Big Ten champion at Illinois since the championships were officially recognized by the Big Ten in 1982-83. The Frederick, Md., native also reached the all-around podium for the first time after tying for third with Penn State's Sharaya Musser. She was named to the inaugural Big Ten All-Championship Team, which included the top three individuals on each event and in the all-around.
"It feels really good to be a Big Ten champion again," Joannides said. "I was really happy with my performance today since this is what I have been training for all year, so it is special to do it at Big Tens. It was a relief and an accomplishment all in one, but I also was just happy I could contribute good scores for the team. We are feeling great coming off this meet, so if we take the energy we had here into the NCAA Regional at the Assembly Hall, we will have a great shot of going to nationals."
The Illini boasted the top two all-arounders during the afternoon session in Joannides and junior Alina Weinstein, who tallied a 39.325 and came in sixth overall. Illinois and Nebraska were the only two schools with multiple all-around gymnasts among the top six on the awards podium.
"Kelsey has continually been a workhorse for us," Landrus said. "She knows it always comes down to those couple tenths and is always a consistent competitor that brings her `A' game every week. I can't say enough about Alina this year. She continually outperforms herself every weekend, so there are still great things to come from her."
Illinois established the early lead during the afternoon's first rotation with a 48.875 on floor. See and Weinstein each scored a 9.850 to lead the way, as the duo shared the runner-up spot in the session and tied for eighth overall. Joannides turned in a 9.800, while junior Elise Gill (9.700) and senior Hannah Welker (9.675) rounded out the scoring on the first event.
The Illini carried the momentum from the solid start to vault, where they tallied a 48.975 to maintain the session lead with a 97.850. See matched her winning score on the event from last season to take third in the session and tie for sixth overall with a 9.900, and Joannides tied for fourth in the session with a season-high 9.875. Weinstein notched a 9.850, Gill added a 9.800 and sophomore Elizabeth McNabb had a 9.550 to wrap up the scoring.
A season and session-high 49.100 on bars kept Illinois out in front after the third rotation at 146.950. Weinstein secured a second-place showing in the session and tied for fourth overall by matching a season-high 9.875 on bars. Joannides tied for fourth in the session with sophomore Sarah Fiedler, who equaled a season high with a 9.825. Kantecki chipped in a 9.800, and junior Macy Hyatt competed for the second time this year, scoring a 9.775.
During the final rotation of the afternoon, Illinois totaled the top beam score of the entire meet with a 48.900, but the Wolverines finished with a 49.025 on bars to surpass the Orange and Blue in the session. Joannides grabbed the session's top spot with a 9.900, while Fiedler tied for second and seventh overall with a 9.800. Weinstein notched a 9.750, and See and McNabb each had a 9.725.
"We had some really strong performances on floor to get things started, and then our last four vaulters were big for gaining some momentum going into bars," Landrus said. "The energy was really contagious, and after Kelsey's stuck landing on vault, we just carried it to our best showing on bars from top to bottom. After a mistake on beam, our girls showed they are fighters and finished off with three great routines."
In the first year with two sessions at the conference championship, top seed Nebraska captured the Big Ten title with a 197.100, while third-seeded Ohio State placed second with a 196.225 and Minnesota took third at 195.950.
Up Next: The University of Illinois will host a 2012 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Regional on Saturday, April 7 at 4 p.m. (CT) at the Assembly Hall. The Illini will host an NCAA Regional for the first time in school history and complete NCAA Regional selections will be announced on Monday, March 26.