Weinstein Advances to Floor Final, Illini Finish 11th in Country
April 19, 2013
Los Angeles, Calif. - Senior Illinois gymnast Alina Weinstein displayed true Fighting Illini spirit this afternoon inside the Pauley Pavilion in Session I of the NCAA Championships. After falling on beam in the team's third event, the New Jersey native fought back by tying for first on floor with a 9.9, and thus qualified for the NCAA individual event finals this Sunday.
Also as a result, Weinstein earned First-Team All-American on floor. Therefore, the senior is now a two-time NCAA All-American, previously bestowed second-team honors on floor in 2011. Furthermore, the achievement marks the 12th such honor in program history.
"It's such an emotional meet, especially when you're a senior," said Illinois head coach Kim Landrus. "After she made that mistake on beam, she just needed to put that all behind her and that's a really tough thing to do. It showed how mentally strong she was to be able to hit that floor routine and get that 9.9 to advance to event finals."
As a team, Illinois placed fifth in the session with a 195.700. The score is their highest ever recorded at the NCAA Championship Semi-finals, previously recording a 195.1 in 2011 and a 195.050 in 2009.
The Illini rotated in the Olympic order, thus starting the day on vault where the Orange and Blue tallied a 48.850. Freshman Heather Foley kicked it off for Illinois with a 9.725, followed by Jaclyn Kantecki's 9.675 and Giana O'Connor's 9.750. Next, veteran leaders Amber See and Alina Weinstein delivered big vaults for the Illini with a 9.825 and 9.875, respectively.
After a second rotation bye, Illinois moved to bars where they posted a 48.675. Junior Elizabeth McNabb, who was a last minute addition to the bars lineup, scored a team high 9.75, the same scores as Jordan Naleway and Giana O'Connor. Also to note, McNabb's bars performance was her first routine on the apparatus since the 2012 Champaign Regional.
Beam was next for the Orange and Blue, as the squad posted a 48.975, 0.4 points higher than their previous NCAA's best in 2009. Sunny Kato, who has specialized on bars and beam all season, led the squad here with a 9.85, good for 11th place. Sarah Fiedler tied her second highest beam score of the season with a 9.825 while Amber See secured a 9.8.
Continuing their trend of besting former NCAA Championship Semi-final scores, the Illini scored a 49.2 on floor (previous high of 49.15 in 2011). Following behind Weinstein's first place finish, both Giana O'Connor and Amber See tied for 12th with a 9.85, as See recorded her third score on the day that was a 9.8 or higher. In addition, Heather Foley tallied her second highest floor score of the season with a 9.8 as Jordan Naleway finished her great NCAA's day with a 9.8 as well.
"I couldn't be prouder of this team," said Landrus. "We started off with a solid vault but were a little tight on bars. I told them to get back to your normal gymnastics. We then went to beam and floor and really rocked it."
Thus, freshman Giana O'Connor shone bright in her Nationals debut, tying for 11th place in the all-around with a 39.1. The score was her third tally of at least a 39.1 this post-season and her seventh such achievement in the past eight meets.
Three SEC schools moved on from Session I to advance to the Super Six Finals on Saturday as Florida (197.775) finished in first, LSU (197.325) in second and Georgia (197.150) in third. Fellow Big Ten school Minnesota finished right in front of the Illini with a 196.375 as Stanford placed last with a 194.700.
Finally, the NCAA Individual Event Finals will commence at 3 p.m. CT on Sunday, April 21. The meet will air live on ESPN3.
NCAA Championships Semifinal Session I Results
1. Florida - 197.775
2. LSU - 197.325
3. Georgia - 197.150
4. Minnesota - 196.375
5. ILLINOIS - 195.700
6. Stanford - 194.700