Sophomore Sunny Kato scored a career high 9.900 on bars vs Iowa, earning her first title on the event
Feb. 21, 2013
Week 7 Notes: #18 Fighting Illini at #20 Ohio State
Feb. 23, 2013 // 3 p.m. CT // Columbus, Ohio // St. John Arena
The Illini women’s gymnastics team jumps from #21 to #18 in this week’s National Rankings as they travel to Columbus, Ohio, for their fifth road meet of the season. Illinois will clash with #20 Ohio State inside the St. John Arena starting at 3 p.m. CT. In 2012, the Illini got the upper-hand against the Buckeyes in Champaign, defeating them by the narrowest of margins, 195.700-195.575; however, Ohio State retaliated at the Big Ten Championships when they finished in second place (196.225) behind champion Nebraska. For those Illini fans making the trip, admission is $8 for adults and $5 for students.
Scouting the Competition
Ohio State is only ranked higher in one of the four events compared to the Orange and Blue. The Buckeyes’ average vault score of 48.975 have landed them the #21 spot compared to the Illini’s #31 (48.775). Ohio State also ranks in the top-25 on bars (#21 - 48.839) and beam (#18 - 48.746), but their weakest event lies with the floor exercise and their 48.725 average. The Buckeyes are coming off of a 195.575-194.250 win over Michigan State, but have yet to accomplish back-to-back wins this season. In addition, after defeating Iowa at home on Jan. 19, Ohio State has yet to record another victory inside St. John Arena, losing to Nebraska and Michigan. Ohio State’s season high thus far has been a 196.250.
A Look Back
In front of a Gym Jam record crowd of 2,316 fans, the #21 University of Illinois women’s gymnastics team rallied on the final rotation to edge out the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes by a tenth of a point, 195.975-195.875. Illinois entered the final rotation down 147.575-146.825 as Iowa led the entire way. Yet, Iowa faltered on beam and totaled a 48.300 on their final event. Next, the Orange and Blue showed consistency right out of the gate as Kelsi Eberly, Jordan Naleway and Sarah Fiedler all posted a 9.775 on floor. Then, freshman Giana O’Connor delivered a strong routine for the Illini as she tied her career high of 9.850. Combined with Weinstein’s record score (9.975), Illinois totaled a 49.150 on floor and took the overall meet to stay undefeated at home.
Alina Weinstein’s Name Etched in Illini History
A week after tying 2011 alum Allison Buckley for the highest all-around score in school history with a 39.550, the senior outdid herself to stand alone as one of the all-time Illini greats by achieving a 39.600 in the meet vs. Iowa. The New Jersey native started the meet by scoring a 9.875 on the first three events, which marked a season high on bars. Then, Weinstein recorded a near perfect floor routine as she broke the Illinois floor record with a 9.975. The score bested an event record that originated in 2000 by Phaedra Dixon.
Big Ten Weekly Honors
Last week, Alina Weinstein earned Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors for tying Allison Buckley’s Illinois all-around record of 39.550. So when the senior improved her score to a 39.600 this weekend against Iowa to become the sole leader in the program’s history, the conference acknowledged her efforts once again with the weekly award. Weinstein now has three Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors in her career and became the first Illini gymnast to win in two straight weeks. She is also the only Big Ten gymnast to win consecutively this season and just the second multiple Gymnast of the Week recipient, joining Michigan’s Joanna Sampson.
Weinstein is not the only Illini to be recognized by the Big Ten this season as Giana O’Connor was named 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. Furthermore, it was the third Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor in Illini history as O’Connor became the second gymnast to do so in the award’s short existence.
Entering the halfway point of the 2013 season, the Illini have compiled 14 individual event titles. Alina Weinstein has been on a roll of late, capturing 7 of her 10 titles this year in the past two weeks alone. The senior has earned at least one title on every apparatus, including an event high three on floor. Weinstein has also finished first in three all-around competitions this year.
In her first year competing with the Illini, Sunny Kato achieved her first collegiate title at #2 Michigan when she scored a 9.875 on beam. The sophomore then won her first title on bars this past Saturday vs Iowa when she recorded a career high 9.900. Finally, at the Pink Meet vs Michigan State, Giana O’Connor and Sarah Fiedler tied for first on beam, thus both picking up their first titles of the season.
The Illini rank in the top-25 in three out of four events in which they have posted a season high of 49.250 in each. Illinois is currently 15th on the balance beam with a 48.788 average. Their season high on beam came against Michigan and ranked as the third highest beam score of all-time. Furthermore, the Illini continued to climb the rankings on bars as they jumped four slots to the number 16 spot with a 48.917 average. This past Saturday vs. Iowa, the Illini recorded the fourth highest bars total in program history with their 49.250. Finally, Illinois has also found success on floor where they are ranked 24th (48.863). Alina Weinstein fuels the Illini here as she is now the current Illinois floor record holder with a 9.975 in the event.
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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