Julie Crall finished fifth in the all-around with a career-high 38.950 at the South Central Regional Championships.
April 8, 2006
Fayetteville, Ark. - The Fighting Illini women's gymnastics team finished fourth at the NCAA South Central Regional Saturday night in Fayetteville, Ark. with a score of 193.125, equaling the best finish at a regional meet in school history. Illinois has finished fourth on five other occasions, but had not done so since 1987. No. 3 Florida (196.375) took the regional title, while the host No. 18 Arkansas (195.400) edged No. 9 UCLA (195.175) for the second team qualifying spot to the NCAA Championships. Illinois was fourth behind the Bruins, and was followed by Illinois-Chicago (191.125) and Southeast Missouri State (189.050).
Illinois got a career day from freshman Julie Crall, who posted three career-highs, including a 38.950 in the all-around to narrowly miss qualifying for the NCAA Championships. The top two all-around competitors from non-qualifying teams move on to the NCAA Championships, Crall finished fifth overall and fourth amongst non-qualifying teams behind three UCLA gymnasts. If UCLA would have finished in second place instead of Arkansas, Crall would have advanced as the top all-arounder from a non-qualifying team, however, the Bruins came up just .225 short.
"I'm very pleased with how Julie performed tonight," said head coach Bob Starkell of the freshman second team All-Big Ten selection from Cincinnati, Ohio. "Julie has had nagging injuries for most of the year, but she's done whatever she could for the team. She surpassed our expectations tonight, it's just too bad she just missed advancing to NCAAs."
The Illini got the night off to a solid start, hitting all six routines on bars, but scoring was tight in the early going. Cara Pomeroy, the 2004 South Central Regional Uneven Bars Champion with a perfect 10.0, led the way again this year with a 9.800, which was good for eighth place overall. Krystal Melcarek scored 9.725 and Crall a career-high 9.675 for the Illini. Marijka Botterman's 9.575 and Kim Kruk's 9.550 rounded out the scoring as the Illini finished the event with a 48.325 total.
Illinois moved to the beam in the second rotation and struggled to a score of 48.000. Crall and Pomeroy were the bright spots, earning scores of 9.775 and 9.750, respectively. Senior Katie Wild scored a 9.650 and Botterman a 9.550, but a fall by Kruk (8.900) forced the Illini to count Melissa Singer's 9.275.
After a bye, the Illini moved to floor exercise for the fourth rotation, where freshmen Kruk and Crall led the way with 9.725s. Katie Wild (9.675), Melissa Singer (9.575) and Pomeroy (9.500) also counted, giving Illinois and event total of 48.200.
The Orange and Blue closed the night with a bang, posting their top event score of 48.600 on vault. A trio of freshmen led the way with Lindsey Smith (9.800) and Crall (9.775) each notching career-highs and Botterman also scoring a 9.775. Singer earned a 9.650 and Kruk a 9.600 to round out the UI scorers.
"I think we can take a lot of positives from this meet," Starkell said. "We performed better than our last couple of meets, we didn't count any falls and we finished strong. We started very well on bars, scoring was a little tight, but we felt good. On beam we were conservative and had a couple breaks, but we bounced back and finished up well on floor and especially vault." It was the final meet for seniors Katie Wild and Emily Earle, but despite their losses the future looks bright for the Illini. They had one of the youngest teams in the country this year, with freshmen performing 13 of the 24 routines on Saturday, and have three talent athletes coming in next fall.
Starkell hopes that tonight's experience will help the team get motivated for next season.
"Hopefully the freshmen gained some experience and saw what the other teams did today and what it takes to get to the next level. I hope they saw how happy Arkansas was to advance to NCAAs for the first time and are motivated to get to that point next year. The key for them is to be hungry."
2006 NCAA South Central Regional Championships
Hosted by the University of Arkansas
Team Results Total Vault Bars Beam FloorIllinois Results and Event Winners
1. Florida 196.375 49.050 49.150 49.025 49.150
3. Arkansas 195.400 48.775 48.950 48.975 48.700
2. UCLA 195.175 49.250 48.600 48.325 49.000
4. ILLINOIS 193.125 48.600 48.325 48.000 48.200
5. Illinois-Chicago 191.125 48.475 48.025 46.825 47.800
6. SEMO 189.050 48.175 46.925 46.600 47.350
1t. Samantha Lutz, FLA 9.900
1t. Kate Richardson, UCLA 9.900
8t. Cara Pomeroy 9.800
16t. Krystal Melcarek 9.725
21t. Julie Crall 9.675 CH
24t. Marijka Botterman 9.575
26. Kim Kruk 9.550
28t. Emily Earle 9.425
1t. Kate Richardson, UCLA 9.875
1t. Corey Hartung, FLA 9.875
14t Kim Kruk 9.725
14t. Julie Crall 9.725
18t. Katie Wild 9.675
22. Melissa Singer 9.575
27t. Cara Pomeroy 9.500
29t. Marijka Botterman 9.475