Melissa Fernandez won her second balance beam title of the season Saturday night in Columbus.
Jan. 31, 2009
Columbus, Ohio - The 15th-ranked Illinois women's gymnastics team took second Saturday night in a quad meet in Columbus, Ohio, with a score of 194.575, behind 13th ranked Missouri (195.375). Michigan State took third with a 195.500, followed by No. 14 Ohio State with a 193.825. Sophomore Melissa Fernandez was the lone title winner for the Illini, taking home the beam crown with a career-high tying 9.825, while junior Nicole Cowart tied her season-high score of 39.175 in the all-around to take second.
"The judging was top-notch tonight and was what we will see farther down the line this season," head coach Bob Starkell said. "We did great in our first three rotations. We stuck all our dismounts on bars and had great energy on floor, but it just seemed like we ran out of gas on vault."
The Illini began the meet on uneven bars, where they posted their season-high score of 49.000. Nicole Cowart led the way for the Orange and Blue, posting a career-high tying 9.850 to garner a third place tie. Sophomore Allison Buckley matched her career-high score of 9.825 to tie junior Sarah Schmidt and finish just behind Cowart in a tie for sixth, while senior Marijka Botterman tallied a 9.800 to add to the Illinois total.
Despite no major breaks, the Illini scored their season-low on the balance beam with 48.700 in rotation two. Fernandez paced the Illini with her title winning score and was followed by freshman Kelsey Joannides in fifth place with a 9.775.
The Illini concluded the competition with a 48.750 on floor and 48.125 on vault to garner their second place finish. Senior Lindsey Smith's career-high tying 9.800 led Illinois on floor, while Cowart and Botterman were the top-two finishers on vault with a 9.825 and 9.800, respectively.
Cowart's score of 39.175 in the all-around was second to Missouri's Sarah Shire (39.225), while Joannides and Buckley finished with a 38.825 and 38.325, respectively.
"Nicole and Marijka both looked great on all their events tonight and Melissa had a wonderful routine on beam," Starkell said.
Illinois heads to the Windy City next weekend to host the IGI Chicago Style Invite on Friday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. CT. at Navy Pier. The meet is part of the Illinois Gymnastics Institute (IGI) "Chicago Style" Club Gymnastics Meet, which is one of the largest women's gymnastics invitationals in the world. The second annual collegiate meet will feature the Fighting Illini along with Boise State, Illinois-Chicago and Michigan State.
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