Sarah Fiedler and the Illini will host their annual Pink Meet on Friday before traveling to Tempe for a contest against Arizona State.
Feb. 16, 2012
No. 18 Illinois has a busy weekend with one home and one road meet on the docket. The Illini will host Big Ten rival Michigan State on Friday, Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. in their annual "Pink Meet" at Huff Hall before traveling to Tempe, Ariz., for a dual meet against No. 25 Arizona State on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 3 p.m. (CT). The Illini and Spartans will vie for the Victory Plank on Friday night, and the meet will be streamed on fightingillini.com (subscription required). The Orange and Blue will then compete at Arizona State at the Wells Fargo Arena for the first time in school history, and free live video of the competition can be found at FOXSportsArizona.com.
Illini Hosting Pink Meet Friday
For the fifth-straight year, Illinois will sponsor several different activities to help raise awareness about cancer during the meet. There will be informational booths from Colleges Against Cancer and the Young Survivor's Coalition located in the south end of Huff Hall. Both squads will be sporting pink leotards during the meet, and fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness. A pink-colored 1970 Dodge Challenger will be parked out front of Huff Hall for fans to take pictures alongside, and there will also be raffles throughout the evening to give away pink prizes.
Victory Plank on the Line
Beginning in 2010, the Illini and Spartans added a little extra incentive to their Big Ten dual meet by putting the "Victory Plank" rivalry trophy up for grabs for the first time. This traveling trophy, which was created by boosters from Michigan State, consists of a piece of a classic-looking balance beam on platform, reminiscent of the 1970s when the beams were made of wood. Illinois and Michigan State have consistently met throughout the years since 1976, with the Illini holding a recent advantage in the series after winning six of the past seven dual meets since 2004. The Illini captured the inaugural trophy after defeating MSU 195.600-195.500 in 2010 and retained it with a 195.225-195.000 come-from-behind victory a year ago in East Lansing.
Scouting the Competition
After starting off the season 1-4 through three meets, Michigan State rebounded with three wins in a row at home and heads to Champaign with a 4-4 overall record. The Spartans have an average score of 192.555 and their season-high mark came against Illinois State with a 194.400. MSU's top event is vault (48.685) followed by floor (48.515), bars (48.140) and beam (47.215). Arizona State won its first four meets of the year before dropping its last two for an overall record of 4-2. The Sun Devils are ranked 25th overall with an average of 194.346 and earned their top mark this season against Arizona with a 195.875. They are ranked in the top 30 in the nation on beam (t-17th, 48.575), bars (23rd, 48.646), and vault (27th, 48.717) and have an average of 48.408 on floor.
A Look Back
In a loaded field at the IGI Chicago Style Invite held at Navy Pier, No. 19 Illinois showed consistency on all four events and scored a 195.100. The Illini scored a 48.5 or better on all four events and finished behind No. 7 UCLA (196.850), No. 15 Boise State (196.025) and No. 18 Missouri (195.525). Junior Alina Weinstein led the Orange and Blue in the all-around with a 39.175.
To open the meet, the Illini turned in a 48.850 on bars, paced by a 9.825 by Weinstein. Sophomore Sarah Fiedler was next at 9.800 followed by 9.750s from senior Kelsey Joannides and sophomore Elizabeth McNabb, which marked a career high, and a 9.725 from senior Hannah Welker. During the second rotation, Weinstein's 9.800 led Illinois to a team total of 48.875 on beam. Fiedler, Joannides and sophomore Amber See each came away with a 9.775 while McNabb rounded out the scoring with a 9.75. Junior Jaclyn Kantecki made the beam lineup for the first time and posted a career-high 9.725.
After moving to floor exercise, the Illini matched their previous score by tallying a 48.875 on the event. See, who tied for second overall, fell just short of winning the title for the fifth meet in a row but notched the highest mark by an Illini with a 9.875. Joannides finished close behind at 9.850 followed by Fiedler and Weinstein with 9.725s and freshman Kelsi Eberly with a 9.675. The Orange and Blue wrapped up the night on vault with a 48.500. Weinstein again led the Illini with a 9.825 while junior Elise Gill was second on the squad at 9.750. Kantecki scored a 9.725 and Joannides and McNabb each had a career-high 9.600.
Four on Floor
Sophomore Amber See, who took first on floor once as a freshman, won the event crown at each of the first four meets this season before tying for second at Navy Pier with a 9.875. The Minnetonka, Minn., native opened the year with a 9.850 followed by three consecutive 9.9s to earn top honors. She has notched a score of 9.800 or higher at each of the last 11 meets dating back to last season and owns five career floor titles.
Weinstein Named Big Ten Gymnast of Week
Junior Alina Weinstein earned Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors for the first time in her career following a personal-best meet at Michigan. The Plainsboro, N.J., native scored a career-high 39.400 in the all-around to take home top honors while also winning event titles on bars (9.875) and beam (9.825). Weinstein's all-around score tied the ninth-best mark in school history and ranks as the top score by an Illini gymnast this season. Along with her victories, she also tied for third on vault (9.825) and floor (9.875) with career-high scores.
Taking the Top Spot
Illini gymnasts have totaled 20 individual titles during the 2012 season. At the season opener against Minnesota, sophomore Amber See rated first on floor and there was a three-way tie for first between juniors Macy Hyatt and Jaclyn Kantecki and sophomore Sarah Fiedler on bars. The event title was the third career for Kantecki and first ever for Hyatt and Fiedler. Against the Hawkeyes, senior Kelsey Joannides took the top spot on vault, bars, beam and in the all-around while See came away with the floor crown. At Michigan, junior Alina Weinstein grabbed first in the all-around and bars while also sharing top honors on beam with Joannides, and See won the floor title. Against Ohio State, Joannides snagged first on bars and tied for first in the all-around with See, who tied for first on beam with Elizabeth McNabb and captured the floor crown for the fourth meet in a row. Joannides now leads the team with seven victories this season followed by See with six and Weinstein with three.
Illinois has three all-around competitors during the 2012 season and each has earned the top spot at a meet this season. Junior Alina Weinstein, who has three scores over 39, turned in the ninth-best performance in school history with a career-high 39.400 at Michigan and hit all four routines against Iowa to score a 39.075. Senior Kelsey Joannides owns two titles at Iowa (39.175) and vs. Ohio State (39.175) while also notching a season-best 39.300 in a runner-up showing at Michigan. Sophomore Amber See made her career debut in the all-around at Iowa with a 39.100 and tied for first against Ohio State the a personal-best score of 39.175.
Illini in the Rankings
The Illini moved up one spot to No. 18 in the national rankings with an average of 194.860. Illinois spent the first two weeks of the season at No. 15 and reached as high as No. 14 before spending the last two weeks at No. 19. The Orange and Blue are ranked in the top 25 on three events, including 12th on bars (48.850), tied for 13th on floor (48.910) and 21st on beam (48.520). Individually, sophomore Amber See is tied for eighth on floor (9.885).
A Look Ahead
Illinois will head back up to Chicago for a meet against UIC on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 5 p.m.
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