Junior Alina Weinstein qualified for the NCAA Championships by winning the all-around at the NCAA Champaign Regional.
April 7, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Junior Alina Weinstein earned a trip to the NCAA Championships on Saturday after winning the all-around title at the NCAA Champaign Regional with a career-high score of 39.450. The Plainsboro, N.J., native led No. 22 Illinois to a third-place finish with a total of 195.725, as the Illini finished behind No. 2 Oklahoma (197.025) and No. 11 Stanford (196.675) to come up one spot short of advancing to nationals for the second-straight year. Illinois, which hosted its first-ever regional at the Assembly Hall, will be represented at the national meet for the fifth year in a row.
"We had a great competition, and I am so proud of our team," head coach Kim Landrus said. "We really put it all out on the floor and did everything that we could do this evening. Alina has gotten better with each year at Illinois, and we have really seen her develop and mature as a junior to become the outstanding gymnast we knew she could be."
Weinstein, who also tied for first on beam with a career-high 9.900, becomes just the second Illini to win multiple regional titles, sharing that honor with Nancy Thies, who won a combined seven crowns from 1976-77. She is also just the second regional all-around champion from Illinois along with Thies and the fourth individual event champion in program history, joining Thies, Allison Buckley (2009-10) and Cara Pomeroy (2004) with that distinction. Weinstein hit all four routines on vault (9.850), bars (9.825), beam (9.900) and floor (9.875) to equal the fifth-best all-around score in school history of 39.450.
"It's really bittersweet because I wish I was going to nationals with 14 other girls," Weinstein said. "It won't be the same without them, but it is really exciting, and I am proud to be representing the University of Illinois."
The Illini followed the Olympic rotation order and began the meet by matching a season high on vault with a 49.000, which was the squad's top event score at the competition. Weinstein tied for third with a 9.850, while senior Kelsey Joannides and sophomore Amber See tied for sixth on the event with a 9.825. Juniors Elise Gill (9.800) and Jaclyn Kantecki (9.700) rounded out the scoring on the event.
On the uneven bars, the Orange and Blue tallied a 48.775, led by 9.825s from Weinstein and Kantecki, who tied for eighth. Joannides was next at 9.800 followed by freshman Jordan Naleway with a 9.725 and sophomore Elizabeth McNabb with a 9.600. During the third rotation, Weinstein's victory on the balance beam with a 9.900 paced the Illini score of 48.975. Joannides tied for eighth at 9.800, while McNabb and sophomore Sarah Fiedler each had a 9.750. See wrapped up the scoring with a 9.725.
Illinois closed out the evening on floor with another 48.975. See and Weinstein finished in a tie for fourth at 9.875 followed by Gill with a 9.800. Fiedler's 9.725 and senior Hannah Welker's 9.700 also counted on floor.
Joannides came up a tenth short of qualifying to nationals as an individual all-arounder behind Denver's Moriah Martin (39.200), who garnered the other bid along Weinstein. The Frederick, Md., native closed out her career with a 39.100 to finish as the third all-arounder on a non-advancing team. Joannides, who was the Big Ten champion on beam, racked up 19 event titles in her final season as an Illini, which tied the fourth-most in program history for a single season.
"Kelsey has done a phenomenal job all four years for us," Landrus said. "She missed one bar routine at the beginning of the year and has hit every routine since which is outstanding for an all-arounder. She has so much to be proud, but I know it is bittersweet for her now. She will be able to look back and feel honored to leave such a great tradition at the University of Illinois."
Illinois, which qualified for nationals in 2009 and 2011, has placed in the top three at the regional meet for five years in a row after never finishing above fourth before 2008. For the other three teams at the competition, No. 14 Denver (194.875) came in fourth followed by No. 24 Kentucky (194.750) and UIC (194.150).
Weinstein will finish off the 2012 season for Illinois at the NCAA Championships from April 20-22 in Duluth, Ga.