2014 Illini to Debut Friday at MSU
Jan. 8, 2014
Last year, the Illini hosted Michigan State at home where they defeated the Spartans 196.125-193.350. Illinois then traveled to East Lansing at the end of the season for the Big Ten Championships and found great success inside the Jenison Field House, scoring a season best 196.475. Friday's meet will also be beneficial, for the Illini will return to East Lansing for the newly introduced Big Ten Quad Meet on March 15.
Victory Plank on the Line
Beginning in 2010, the Illini and Spartans added a little extra incentive to their Big Ten dual meet by putting the "Victory Plank" rivalry trophy up for grabs for the first time. This traveling trophy, which was created by boosters from Michigan State, consists of a piece of a classic-looking balance beam on a platform, reminiscent of the 1970s when the beams were made of wood. Illinois and Michigan State have consistently met throughout the years since 1976, with the Illini holding a recent advantage in the series after winning seven of the past nine dual meets since 2004. The Illini have never surrendered the trophy since its inception. Illinois defeated MSU in 2010 (195.600-195.500), 2011 (195.225-195.000) and 2013 (196.125-193.350), while 2012 ended in a tie (195.175).
Alina Weinstein picked up her second career NCAA All-America honor and her first ever first-team distinction after tying for first place in Session I on floor with a 9.9 at the NCAA Championships. Weinstein was the third Illini to garner multiple NCAA All-America honors and became the fourth gymnast to reach the event finals, the first in the floor exercise.
For the first time since the 2010 season, four Illini were named All-Big Ten honorees. Weinstein achieved her first career first-team accolade after ranking 11th in the country in the all-around and fourth on floor. Amber See grabbed her second straight second-team laurel, ranking 20th in the nation on floor. Finally, Sunny Kato and Giana O'Connor were both first time winners with their respective second-team honors.
2013 was a year for the record books. As a whole, the Illini accomplished program top-5 scores on each event and the sixth highest team total ever with a 196.475 at the Big Ten Championships. Individually, Alina Weinstein produced an ideal ending. The senior broke the school records on vault (10.0), floor (9.975) and the all-around (39.625).
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