Women's Gymnastics
#21 Illini Look To Carry Momentum Against Iowa

Alina Weinstein will return to action this Saturday after tying the highest all-around score (39.55) in Illinois history
Alina Weinstein will return to action this Saturday after tying the highest all-around score (39.55) in Illinois history

Feb. 13, 2013

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Week 6 Notes: Gym Jam

#21 Fighting Illini vs Iowa Hawkeyes 

Feb. 16, 2013 // 4 p.m. CT // Champaign, Ill. // Huff Hall

The Meet

The #21 University of Illinois women's gymnastics team returns home to Champaign to welcome the Iowa Hawkeyes. The women's squad will look to stay undefeated inside Huff as they previously defeated Michigan State, 196.125-193.350, earlier this season. The Illini and Hawkeyes will both look to settle their dual meet tie from last year at Iowa City; though, the Illini did get the upper-hand at the Big Ten Championships, besting Iowa, 195.850-195.425. 

Gym Jam

The first 500 fans will receive a free Illini Gymnastics water bottle and free food. There will also be games, prizes and face painting for kids, including an autograph session with all the Illini gymnasts after the meet. Gym Jam is also in conjunction with the men's gymnastics team who will also be hosting Iowa at the event. The doors open to fans at 3 p.m. CT.

Scouting the Competition

Iowa enters Saturday's matchup 5-3 on the year. Their season started with a win over Ball State followed by a loss at Ohio State and Michigan. The Hawkeyes finished second in a quad meet with Penn State, Pittsburgh and Rutgers before emerging triumphant over Michigan State and UIC last weekend. Thus, Iowa has yet to secure a dual meet victory on the road this season. The Hawkeyes' team average score of 194.795 ranks 27th in the nation. Iowa ranks 30th on vault (48.770) and excels on the uneven bars and floor exercise with ranks of 14th (48.900) and 15th (48.935), respectively. The biggest discrepancy lies with the balance beam where Iowa is 40th with an average of 48.190 compared to the Illini's rank of 16th with an average of 48.805. Iowa can tout that they possess the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week Alie Glover after she captured an all-around title last week with a score of 39.050. 

A Look Back

The Illini enter Saturday's contest after recording their best score of the season with a 196.350 against Minnesota. In fact, this is the second time the team scored above a 196 this year, already topping last season's mark. Illinois produced season high scores on bars (49.150) and vault (49.00), tied their season high on floor (49.250) and scored above their season average on beam (48.950). Senior Alina Weinstein produced a career defining night as she tied the Illinois record for highest all-around score of 39.550. In all last weekend, eight gymnasts tied and recorded new season high scores and will look to continue the upward trend this Saturday. 

Alina Weinstein Named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week

Alina Weinstein's four years of hard work and dedication in an Illinois leotard culminated to a 39.550 in the all-around last Saturday, tying 2011 alum Allison Buckley for the highest mark ever posted by an Illini. Thus, the Big Ten conference recognized Weinstein's talents and named her co-gymnast of the week alongside Nebraska's Jessie DeZiel. At Minnesota, Alina Weinstein placed first on floor (9.925), first on balance beam (9.900), second on vault (9.875), fourth on bars (9.850) and claimed the all-around victory, tying her career highs on both beam and floor in the process. The Big Ten weekly accolade is the second of Weinstein's career and also marks the 13th time an Illini has been named Big Ten gymnast of the week.

O'Connor Named Big Ten Freshman of the Week

The Big Ten named Giana O'Connor Freshman of the Week for her performance against then No. 7 Nebraska on Feb. 1. This marked O'Connor's first conference recognition and first weekly award of her young collegiate career and the first for the Orange and Blue this season. O'Connor picked up the third Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor in Illini history and became the second gymnast to do so in the award's short existence. O'Connor finished in second place in the all-around competition with a score of 39.050 in the dual meet against the Cornhuskers. The Streamwood native also placed in the top-10 in every event, including a fifth-place showing on balance beam (9.750) and floor exercise (9.775), sixth on vault (9.800) and ninth on bars (9.725). 

Title Winners

Five meets through the season, the Illini have compiled nine individual event titles. Sunny Kato got the first place finishes underway at #2 Michigan, where she earned her first collegiate title when she scored a 9.875 on beam. The following week vs Michigan State, the Illini earned four out of five possible titles. Alina Weinstein took first in the all-around, floor exercise and uneven bars, while Giana O'Connor and Sarah Fiedler tied for first on beam. Then, just last Saturday at #13 Minnesota, Weinstein captured three more titles in her history making performance, claiming first on floor, beam, and the all-around.  

Early Success

The Illini rank in the top-25 in three out of four events. Illinois is currently 16th on the balance beam with a 48.805 average. Their season high of 49.250 on beam against Michigan ranked as the third highest beam score of all-time. Giana O’Connor and Alina Weinstein lead the way on beam for they are both ranked 34th in the nation with an average of 9.820. Furthermore, the Illini jumped to 20th on bars with a 48.850 average. Alina Weinstein paces the Illini here as she is ranked 39th in the event with an average of 9.825. Finally, Illinois has also found success on floor where they are ranked 23rd (48.805). Weinstein posted the highest individual score of the season on floor with a 9.925 at both Minnesota and Michigan.

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 return 16 of 24 routines, including All-Big Ten honorees Alina Weinstein and Amber See. Illinois will look to improve upon last season's mark of securing 51 individual titles.

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