Senior Samantha Perino and the No. 17 Illini begin the 2011 season against Kentucky and Northern Illinois on Saturday.
Jan. 6, 2011
#17 Illinois at #24 Kentucky with Northern Illinois
Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 // 6 p.m. CT // Memorial Coliseum // Lexington, Ky.
The No. 17 Fighting Illini open the 2011 season on the road in Lexington, Ky., as they face No. 24 Kentucky and Northern Illinois on Saturday, Jan. 8 at 6 p.m. CT. Illinois will square off against the Wildcats and Huskies at Memorial Coliseum, the site where the Illini wrapped up the 2010 campaign as a team with a third-place showing at the NCAA Central Regional.
The Illinois women's gymnastics team begin the season ranked 17th in the GymInfo Preseason Coaches Poll, marking the fourth-straight time and fifth overall that the Illini have been in the nation's top 25 heading into a season. Last season, the Illini started the year with their highest-ever ranking (No. 13), while they checked in at 16th in 2009, 23rd in 2008 and 25th back in 1999 to begin the season. Three other Big Ten schools appeared in the top 25, led by Michigan at No. 9 followed by Penn State at No. 14 and Minnesota at No. 22. Michigan State, Ohio State and Iowa each received votes in the poll and sit just outside the top 25. A total of six opponents on Illinois' schedule are ranked in the preseason top 25, including the three Big Ten squads, Oklahoma (No. 4), Missouri (No. 13) and Kentucky (No. 24).
Interim head coach Kim Landrus welcomes a talented recruiting in her first season at the helm. Freshmen Sarah Fiedler, Elizabeth McNabb and Amber See are expected to make an immediate impact in the Illini lineup, which lost eight routines following the graduation of all-arounders Nicole Cowart and Sarah Schmidt.
2010 in Review
Allison Buckley picked up her second career All-America honor at the 2010 NCAA Championships, as she tied for third on vault with a 9.900 in the afternoon session of the team prelims to earn first-team honors and advance to the event finals. The Schaumburg, Ill., native became Illinois' second ever first-team All-American, repeating the feat accomplished by Melissa Fernandez on beam last year.
Senior Sarah Schmidt advanced to the NCAA Championships, hosted by the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., as the top all-arounder on a non-qualifying team at the NCAA Central Regional Buckley moved onto nationals as an event specialist after tying for the top spot on vault. The duo was just the eighth and ninth Illini to qualify individually since the NCAA began sponsoring the event in 1982.
Four Illini earned All-Big Ten honors, as selected by the coaches, with Schmidt, Buckley and Fernandez being named to the first team and senior Nicole Cowart on the second team. Three first-team selections were the most by any team, and four overall selections tied for the top spot in the conference with Michigan.
A Look Ahead
Illinois travels to Ann Arbor, Mich., for a Big Ten showdown with the Michigan Wolverines and Penn State Nittany Lions on Friday, Jan. 14 at 6:30 p.m.
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