Michelle McGrady and the Illini return home to compete in front of a home crowd.
Feb. 23, 2007
The Fighting Illini women's gymnastics team (3-4, 3-1) returns home on Sunday, Feb. 25, to welcome #10 Iowa State and Northern Illinois to Huff Hall. So far, Illinois is 3-1 against Big Ten foes, beating Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan State and falling to Michigan on the road. Illinois is ranked #24 in the latest GymInfo rankings with a 193.225 RQS, while the Cyclones are #10 with an RQS of 195.120. Live stats, and live video for the meet will be available at fightingillini.com.
Scouting The Cyclones
Iowa State fell to the Oklahoma Sooners, 196.250-194.425, Friday night at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. Seven-time All-American Janet Anson led the Cyclones, finishing first in the all-around after earning top honors on beam (9.90) and floor (9.925). The Cyclones are coached by Jay Ronayne.
Scouting the Huskies
Northern Illinois put together its top overall performance of the season Saturday, establishing team and individual season highs on multiple events while falling to ninth-ranked Denver on the road, 197.000-193.525. NIU has as average of 191.190. They have not had enough scores to calculate an RQS yet. The Huskies are coached by Mark Sontag.
Last Week vs. Michigan State
The Fighting Illini were impressive in a 194.700-193.925 victory over No. 18 Michigan State last Saturday night in East Lansing, Mich. It was the top road score of the season by nearly a point-and-a-half for Illinois, and was the third time the Illini have beaten a higher ranked Big Ten opponent this season. Freshman Nicole Cowart won the all-around for the Orange and Blue, who had four different gymnasts win individual titles on the night.
Cowart Leads the Team
Freshman Nicole Cowart has stepped up during her first season with the Illini and become the most consistent perfromer thus far this season. In the Feb. 17 win over Michigan State, Cowart won the all-around, placed second on vault. At Michigan Cowart also led the way, tying or setting three career-highs while taking fourth on vault (9.875), beam (9.775) and in the all-around (39.125) against top competition. In the Feb. 3 win over Ohio State, Cowart paced the Illini by winning two events in front of the home crowd at Huff Hall. She surpassed her previous highs in both the floor and the bars with scores of 9.800 and 9.775, respectively. Her floor score was enough to carry her to her first event title of the night. She also won the all-around with a score of 39.125.
Seniors Lead The Way
Seniors Danye Botterman, Cara Pomeroy and Melissa Singer are the tri-captains for this year's Illinois women's gymnastics team. Pomeroy, the team's top gymnast over the past three years, is a two-time first team All-Big Ten selection as well as the only Illini gymnast to ever record a perfect 10.0. She accomplished this with her uneven bars performance at the 2004 NCAA South Central Regional Championships. In addition to her impressive list of accolades, she has also won 34 career event titles in her illustrious career. In the Feb. 17 win over Michigan State, Pomeroy returned to her champsionship form on bars after struggling in the early parts on the season, winning the event with a season-high 9.875. She aslo placed second on beam.
The Michigan State meet also marked the return of Danye Botterman, who had not competed all season due to an ankle injury. Singer, meanwhile, contributed greatly during the previous three years, but have been inactive so far this year due to injury.
Freshmen Catching on Fast
Freshmen Nicole Cowart and Sarah Schmidt have shown no signs of inexperience in their first five performances of the season. Cowart has won a team-high four event titles thus far, including two all-around crowns and has posted the top the top two all-around and vault scores by an Illini this season. Schmidt, meanwhile, has competed regularly on bars, beam and floor for the Orange and Blue. She had the best meet of her young career on Feb. 17 against Michigan State, tying her career-high on all-three events, bars (9.800), beam (9.75), floor (9.825) and winning her first career event title on floor.
Illini in the National Rankings
This week the GymInfo rankings switched from season averages to Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). RQS takes each team's top six scores from the season, three of which must be away meets, throws out the high, then averages the remaining five scores. Illinois ranks 24th nationally this week with an RQS of 193.255. Uneven bars have been Illinois' strongest event so far. The Illini rank 24th in the nation with an event RQS of 48.235 on bars. Illinois posted its top score of the season against Iowa with a 48.850.
The Illini have yet to be at full strength this season as senior tri-captain Melissa Singer, and freshman Lori Hamilton have missed the first six meets recovering from injuries. Hamilton is close to returning to action, while Singer continues her recovery. Danye Botterman returned last week after missing the first six meets.
Keep up with the Orange and Blue at fightingillini.com
Gymnastics fans can get the latest on the Illini at fightingillini.com, the official website of Illinois athletics. Live scoring will be available for all home meets at fightingillini.com, and Live streaming video will be available for the four remaining home meets of the season with a CSTV All-Access subscription ($6.95 per month). Be sure to check out what life is like outside the gym for the Fighting Illini by reading "Illini Ink", the weekly blog that is written by a different UI gymnast each week. Also, photo galleries are added to the site on a weekly basis.
After Saturday's contest against Iowa State and Northern Illinois, the Illini will return to the road, when they travel to Bloomington, Ill. to face Illinois State and Wisconsin-Lacrosse Sunday, March. 4.