Sarah Fiedler and the Illini will compete against Iowa at the site of the 2012 Big Ten Championships.
Jan. 19, 2012
The No. 15 Fighting Illini hit the road for the first time this season with a meet against the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 5 p.m. Illinois and Iowa will square off at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the site of the 2012 Big Ten Championships. The Orange and Blue will get a preview of the conference championship venue and look to defeat the Hawkeyes for the third time in a row after finishing ahead of them at last season's conference meet along with at the dual meet (194.775-193.475) in Champaign.
Scouting the Competition
Iowa owns an average of 193.550, which is ranked 26th, and a record of 2-3 after the first two weeks of the season. The Hawkeyes took fourth out of five teams at the season-opening Cancun Classic with a score of 193.875. Last week, they topped Michigan State at home 193.225-190.175 and beat the Spartans in three of four events. Freshman Emma Willis won the all-around competition with a score of 38.775. Senior Jessa Hansen finished in the top-four of all three events she competed in and won the title on beam with a 9.825.
A Look Back
The Illini started the year off with a bang, tallying the highest season-opening score in program history and defeating No. 22 Minnesota 194.725-192.800. The Orange and Blue, who did not count a fall and won their first opener since 2005, held the advantage on their final three events and earned individual titles on bars and floor. The Illini exceeded the Gophers 48.750-47.400 on bars, 48.900-48.225 on beam and 48.775-48.550 on floor in their first season opener at home since 2001. The previous best season-opening score occurred at the home opener in 2001, where the Illini turned in a 194.650. That score also marked just the second time Illinois has recorded over a 194 in the first meet of the year.
Taking the Top Spot
Illini gymnasts won individual titles on bars and floor at the season opener. There was a three-way tie for first between juniors Macy Hyatt and Jaclyn Kantecki and sophomore Sarah Fiedler with a 9.775 on bars. The event title was the third career for Kantecki and first ever for Hyatt and Fiedler. In the final routine of the meet, sophomore Amber See notched the highest Illini score of the meet with a 9.850 to win her second career floor title.
First Time Out
Illinois saw six first-time routines in the competition lineup during the season opener and counted five of those scores. The three new floor routines from freshman Kelsi Eberly (9.600), sophomore Sarah Fiedler (9.675) and junior Elise Gill (9.825) contributed to the team total along with Eberly's performance on beam (9.725) and sophomore Elizabeth McNabb's debut on vault (9.550). McNabb also competed for the first time as an Illini on beam (9.675).
New Year, New Look
The Illini lost two of the most decorated gymnasts in school history following the graduation of standout all-arounders Allison Buckley and Melissa Fernandez, who combined for seven of the 11 All-America honors in school history. Illinois also lost its leadoff on beam and floor in Samantha Perino, meaning it will need to replace 10 routines from a year ago. Despite the loss of those seniors, the Illini still return 14 routines, eight letterwinners, two All-Americans in senior Kelsey Joannides and junior Alina Weinstein, and a Big Ten champion in sophomore Amber See.
After having the interim tag removed over the summer, Landrus remains at the helm for the Illini along with bars coach Jay Santos, who was promoted to Associate Head Coach, and new assistant coach Rodney Gust, who will serve as the vault and floor coach for the Illini. Volunteer assistant coach Jess Bartgis also will help the coaching staff with coordinating floor music and choreography along with assisting on beam and floor. Along with the new faces on the coaching staff, the Illini also welcome six newcomers to the squad.
A Look Ahead
Illinois continues its competition schedule on the road, as it heads to Ann Arbor, Mich., to face No. 11 Michigan on Friday, Jan. 27 at 5 p.m.
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