Junior Marijka Botterman and the Illini head to Iowa City to take on #25 Iowa Friday night
Jan. 23, 2008
The No. 22 Fighting Illini head to Iowa City this Friday, Jan. 25 to take on No. 25 Iowa at 7 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Illini defeated the Hawkeyes in both encounters last season, once head-to-head at Huff Hall (194.725-193.350), and again at the Big Ten Championships in University Park, Pa. (195.250-192.750).
On the Tube
Friday's Illinois-Iowa meet will be broadcast nationally on the Big Ten Network. It will mark the second BTN gymnastics broadcast in history and the first-ever for the Illini. The meet will air tape-delayed on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. with Jim Kelly and Mary Lee Tracy calling the action. The Big Ten Network is available on DirecTV Ch. 220 and Dish Network Ch. 439. The Illini's next meet on the network will is the Saturday, Feb. 16, tilt against Michigan State. That one will air on Feb. 21 at 5 p.m.
On February 2 at 7 p.m. at Huff Hall, the Fighting Illini Women's Gymnastics team will be facing off against the Denver Pioneers with the focus being on more than just competition. The Illini team, joined by the American Cancer Society and Colleges Against Cancer, will be sponsoring several fun activities throughout the evening's meet against Denver to help raise awareness about cancer. Both squads will be wearing pink leotards, while fans are also encouraged to wear pink. In addition, pink pom-poms will be given out to the first 500 fans.
In the Rankings
The Illini are currently ranked No. 22 in the GymInfo rankings, dropping three spots from last week, and are seventh in the South Central Region. After ending the 2007 season at No. 20, Illinois came into this year as the 23rd-ranked team in the nation, marking the highest preseason ranking in Illinois history. It marked the second time that the Illini have been in the nation's top-25 heading into a season, the last being in 1999 when the Illini were ranked 25th to start the season. Last week, the Illini sat at No. 19, before slipping back down to No. 22 this week.
About the Hawkeyes
Iowa comes into Friday's meeting as the 25th-ranked team in the nation. In their last meet, the Hawkeyes defeated Central Michigan on the road by a score of 193.625-189.650. Iowa is currently 3-2 on the year, after beginning the season with a second place finish (192.875) in the Cancun Classic and a 195.550-191.525 loss at LSU. Leading the way for the Hawkeyes is junior Jenifer Simbhudas, who won three event titles and the all-around last weekend at Central Michigan and is currently ranked third in the Big Ten all-around with an average of 39.037. In addition, senior Katie Burke was a first team All-Big Ten performer a year ago.
Last weekend, the Illini faced No. 19 Ohio State in their home opener at Huff Hall. Illinois was edged by the Buckeyes by a score of 193.450-193.125. The Illini were down by a small margin following the first rotation in which Illinois posted a vault score of 48.550. Illinois then held the lead following the bars and beam rotations, posting scores of 48.325 and 48.100, respectively. Despite having the top four scores on floor, the Illini could not hold their lead in the final rotation, garnering a floor score of 48.150 while the Buckeyes hit six of six beam routines. Freshman Allison Buckley highlighted the evening for the Illini, winning three individual titles (vault, floor, and all-around). Junior Julie Crall won her first event title of the year on beam, posting a 9.825.
Junior Julie Crall returned this year after suffering a season-ending Achilles' tear on March 9 of last season. Crall had been a top performer for the Illini in each of her first two seasons earning her Second Team All-Big Ten honors in both her freshman and sophomore campaigns. Last weekend against Ohio State, Crall won her first beam title of the year with a score of 9.825.
Four talented freshman joined the 2008 Fighting Illini squad, with three of them seeing action in the first two meets of the year. Allison Buckley made her presence felt last weekend against Ohio State, winning three individual titles (vault, floor, and all-around). Melissa Fernandez has cracked the line-up in the first two meets on the vault, beam, and floor, while Lashlee Morris has seen action on the beam in the first two meets. Samantha Perino is yet to see action this season, but is pushing to crack the line-up on both beam and floor.
BIG TEN NETWORK women's gymnastics broadcast schedule
Jan. 24, 5 pm - Michigan at Penn State from Jan. 19
Jan. 29, 7 pm - Illinois at Iowa from Jan. 25
Feb. 7, 5 pm - Michigan State at Michigan from Jan. 26
Feb. 14, 5 pm - Ohio State at Iowa from Feb. 9
Feb. 18, 5:30 pm - Minnesota at Michigan from Feb. 16
Feb. 21, 5 pm - Michigan State at Illinois from Feb. 16
Feb. 28, 5 pm and March 2, 3 pm - Penn St. at Ohio St. from Feb. 24
March 27, 6 pm - Maryland, Rutgers, Nebraska at Penn St. from March 21
About the Big Ten Network: The Big Ten Network is dedicated to covering the Big Ten Conference and its 11 member institutions. The Big Ten Network provides unprecedented access to an extensive schedule of conference sports events and shows; original programs in academics, the arts and sciences; campus activities; and associated personalities. Sports programming includes live coverage of more major men's and women's events than ever before, along with news, highlights and analysis, all complemented by hours of university-produced campus programming. For more information regarding the Big Ten Network, visit www.BigTenNetwork.com.