Sophomore Alina Weinstein and the No. 19 Illini host the No. 15 Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday, with Gym Jam festivities beginning at 11 a.m.
Jan. 26, 2011
#19 Illinois vs. #15 Iowa
Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 // 12 p.m. CT // Huff Hall // Champaign, Ill.
On Saturday afternoon at Huff Hall, the No. 19 Illinois women's gymnastics team will compete against No. 15 Iowa at 12 p.m. CT. The battle between top-25 conference foes will be aired live on the Big Ten Network, with Mike Leiderman handling play-by-play duties and Elise Ray adding color commentary. At last year's dual meet, the Illini defeated the Hawkeyes 195.225-192.950 in Iowa City after tallying a 48.650 or better in every event to pick up their first meet victory of the season.
Gym Jam Promotion
The University of Illinois gymnastics teams will host Gym Jam on Saturday, featuring a dual meet with the No. 19 women's team and No. 3 men's squad each battling Big Ten foe Iowa. Admission is free for the meet, which starts at noon, and free food will be provided for the first 1,000 fans beginning at 11 a.m. There will also be great giveaways including tickets for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus and pit passes for the E3 Spark Plugs Monster Truck Nationals. Fans also will have the opportunity to get team posters autographed and meet the gymnasts after the conclusion of the meet.
Scouting the Hawkeyes
The University of Iowa women's gymnastics team knocked off No. 7 Michigan inside the UI Field House last Saturday evening, 195.375-194.900. In front of a standing room only crowd, the No. 17 Hawkeyes topped the Wolverines in three of four events and crowned two champions in senior Rebecca Simbhudas (bars) and junior Jessa Hansen (floor). It marked Michigan's first loss of the year and Iowa's first win over the Maize and Blue in 11 attempts. The Hawkeyes were led by Simbhudas, who finished second in the all-around competition with a score of 39.325. Hansen placed third with a 39.150 while senior Houry Gebeshian placed fourth, scoring a 39.025.
In the latest Troester rankings, the Hawkeyes are ranked among the nation's top-20 on bars (10th), floor (11th) and vault (17th). Gebeshian also moved up to 14th in the nation on bars with an average score of 9.833.
A Look Back - Buckley Named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week
Senior Allison Buckley won the all-around and vault title while senior Melissa Fernandez took the top spot on bars last Saturday, as Illinois and Ohio State tied 195.350-195.350 at St. John Arena. The Illini improved their team score for the third straight meet and posted season-high marks on all four events along with hitting 23 of 24 routines. It was the first tie by an Illini squad since 1991 when the Orange and Blue tied for fourth at the Big Ten Championships.
Buckley, who was named co-Big Ten Gymnast of the Week, tallied season-best scores on all four events on her way to the all-around crown with a combined total of 39.375. The senior tied for first place on the vault with a 9.875 and followed it up with a trio of second-place finishes on the balance beam (9.850), floor exercise (9.850) and uneven bars (9.800). The accolade marked the third career weekly honor for Buckley.
Buckley Chases All-Time Record
Heading into the 2011 season, senior Allison Buckley owned 42 career event titles, good for second place on the Illinois all-time list behind only former Olympian Nancy Theis' career-best 58. The Schaumburg, Ill., native totaled a team-high 19 crowns in 2008, 8 titles during an injury-shortened sophomore season in 2009 and a team-best 15 event wins in 2010. After tying for the top spot in the all-around at the season-opening meet in Kentucky and picking up the vault and all-around crown at Ohio State, Buckley is up to 45 career titles, just 13 shy of Theis' record.
Joannides Jumps Out of the Gate
Junior Kelsey Joannides got off to a quick start at the first meet of the year, tying for the all-around title and tallying the top beam score at Kentucky. The Frederick, Md., native posted two victories at a meet for the first time in her career and topped her title total from the entire 2010 season (1). After only competing twice in the all-around a year ago, Joannides looks to be a staple in each lineup this season and hopes to regain her form from her rookie season, where she was the Big Ten Vault Champion and an all-around competitor at every single meet.
Joannides again led the Illini at Michigan, as she tied for third in the all-around with a 39.075 to help the Illini earn a runner-up finish in Ann Arbor. At Ohio State, she improved her all-around score once again, notching a season-best 39.100 to take third overall.
Illini in the Rankings
Illinois checked in at No. 19 in this week's GymInfo Top 25 national rankings, up two spots from last week (No. 21). The Illini began the season at No. 17 in the preseason poll and have remained in the rankings during each week of the season. Dating back to last season, the Orange and Blue have been ranked for 14 straight weeks. As a team, the Illini are among the top 10 on beam (7th) and floor (10th), while individually, Allison Buckley (17th) and Kelsey Joannides (18th) boast a top-20 ranking in the all-around.
Sophomores in Action
Three of Illinois' four sophomores have made the lineup at the first three meets of the year. Jaclyn Kantecki tied for first on bars in Kentucky with a 9.825, giving her the second event title of her career. Elise Gill also made her Illini debut in the vault lineup and counted her score at each of the meets, including a career-high 9.700 at Ohio State. Alina Weinstein, who is competing all-around this season, set a career high on floor with a 9.825 at Ohio State.
Interim head coach Kim Landrus welcomes a talented recruiting class 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. Fiedler, who counted her score on bars and beam at the previous two competitions, and See, who tied for second with a career-best 9.850 on floor at Ohio State, have seen action at each of the first three meets for the Illini.
Big Ten Preseason Poll
The Fighting Illini women's gymnastics team was picked second by the conference coaches in the Big Ten preseason gymnastics poll, behind only defending champion Michigan. Penn State, Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan State and Ohio State rounded out the conference projections, respectively. Each coach also selected two of their gymnasts to form a 14-member Gymnasts to Watch List, which included Illini seniors Melissa Fernandez and Allison Buckley.
Coming Up Next
Illinois will welcome Minnesota to Huff Hall on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 5 p.m., which will also serve as the squad's annual "Pink Meet" to promote breast cancer awareness.
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