Giana O'Connor, along with Heather Foley and Sunny Kato, will be making their Illini debut Saturday
Jan. 10, 2013
Week 1 Notes: #19 Arizona Hosts #6 Stanford, San Jose State and #18 Illinois
Jan. 12, 2013 // 5 p.m. CT // Tucson, Ariz.
Live Stats and a Live Stream can be found here on Gameday
The No. 18 Fighting Illini jump full throttle into their 2013 campaign as they head out West to Tucson, Ariz. to clash with No. 6 Stanford, San Jose State and host No. 19 Arizona in their season opening quad meet. The meet marks the first time the Orange and Blue have competed against both Arizona and San Jose State. Meanwhile, Illinois will look to one up Stanford who edged out the Illini by 0.950 for second place in the NCAA Champaign Regional a season ago. Arizona finished 22nd in the final 2012 rankings while Stanford climbed to the No. 4 spot.
The Illinois women's gymnastics team will begin the 2013 season ranked 18th in the GymInfo Preseason Coaches Poll, marking the sixth consecutive time and seventh overall that the Illini have been in the nation's top 25 heading into a season. Last season, the Orange and Blue started 15th, while their highest ever ranking (No. 13) came in 2010. "To be ranked in the Top-25 for the sixth consecutive year is a nice recognition as it shows the consistency in our program over the past several years," said Illinois head coach Kim Landrus. Five other Big Ten schools join the University of Illinois in the preseason top-25, ensuring an exciting 2013 conference season. 2012 Big Ten Champion Nebraska earns the highest ranking in the Big Ten, checking in at No. 7. Michigan is next at No. 10, followed by Ohio State at No. 14, Penn State at No. 16 and Minnesota at No. 23. In addition, the Illini are also set to battle No. 21 Missouri this year, bringing the total to eight preseason ranked opponents on the 2013 schedule.
New Year, New Look
The Illini lost two decorated gymnasts following the graduation of standouts Kelsey Joannides and Hannah Welker. Joannides, who won the Big Ten title on vault as a freshman, capped off her collegiate career with a Big Ten Beam title and became the first two-time Big Ten Champion at Illinois since the championships were officially recognized by the conference in 1982-83. Welker competed on bars and floor last season in which she set career highs of 9.850 and 9.775, respectively. The Illini will also be without vault and floor standout Elise Gill, as she is out for the season with an injury. Despite the loss of Joannides, Welker and Gill, the Illini return 16 of 24 routines, including All-Big Ten honorees Alina Weinstein and Amber See. This weekend's lineup also features three gymnasts who will be making their Illini debuts in sophomore Sunny Kato and freshmen Giana O'Connor and Heather Foley. Illinois will look to improve upon last season's mark of securing 51 individual titles.
2012 in Review
• NCAA National Championships Qualifier: For the fifth year in a row, Illinois was represented at the NCAA National Championships, as junior Alina Weinstein competed at nationals to wrap up the year for the Illini, who finished tied for 18th in the nation. Weinstein was the 10th individual NCAA National qualifier in program history.
• Second-Ever NCAA Regional All-Around Champion: Junior Alina Weinstein advanced to the national meet by winning the all-around at the NCAA Champaign Regional with a career-high 39.450, making her just the second all-around regional champion in school history. She also tied for first on beam at the regional, becoming just the second Illini ever to win multiple regional titles, as she shares that honor with Nancy Thies, who won a combined seven crowns from 1976-77.
• Big Ten Beam Champion: In her final conference meet, senior Kelsey Joannides won her second career Big Ten title, tying for first on beam with a 9.900. Joannides, who won the Big Ten title on vault as a freshman, earned the 13th individual conference crown in school history and became the first two-time Big Ten champion at Illinois since the championships were officially recognized by the Big Ten in 1982-83.
• Three All-Big Ten Honorees: Three Illini earned All-Big Ten honors, as senior Kelsey Joannides was named to the first team, and junior Alina Weinstein and sophomore Amber See garnered second-team All-Big Ten honors. Joannides, who was a first-team honoree for the first time, notched her third career All-Big Ten laurel after also being named to the second team in 2009 and 2011. Weinstein was recognized by the conference for the first time in her career with the second-team nod after ranking fifth in the Big Ten in the all-around (39.260). See nabbed second-team honors after tying for the fourth-best RQS on floor (9.885) in the Big Ten.
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