Seniors Kelsey Joannides and Hannah Welker, who were part of the team's first-ever NCAA Championship appearance in 2009 and the best finish in school history (11th) in 2011, will take part in their final regular-season meet at Huff Hall.
March 1, 2012
Gym Jam Meet
The No. 21 Illini will welcome Kentucky to Huff Hall for Gym Jam presented by FOX 55/27 on Friday night in their final home dual meet of the season, where they also will celebrate Senior Night. Admission is free for the meet, which starts at 7 p.m., and free food will be provided for the first 1,000 fans beginning at 6 p.m. The event will be a double dual with the Illini men facing Ohio State at the same time. Fans also will have the opportunity to win prizes and get team posters autographed while meeting the gymnasts after the conclusion of the meet.
The Illini women will honor their two seniors for their accomplishments during the past four years here at Illinois. Kelsey Joannides and Hannah Welker, who were part of the team's first-ever NCAA Championship appearance in 2009 and the best finish in school history (11th) in 2011, will take part in their final regular-season meet at Huff Hall.
Joannides played a key role as a freshman all-around competitor in helping Illinois advance to the NCAA Championships for the first time in school history and again was an essential all-around contributor as a junior when the Illini completed the best season in program history with a second national appearance and a No. 11 final ranking. The Frederick, Md., native earned her first career All-America accolade with a second-team selection on vault in 2011 and is a two-time second-team All-Big Ten honoree. She found success at the conference level as soon as she arrived on campus, winning the 2009 Big Ten Vault Title as a freshman with the second-best score in school history of 9.925. As a business major, she is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten and Scholastic All-American selection.
Welker has been a part of both teams that advanced to the NCAA Championships in 2009 and 2011, marking the first two national appearances in school history. Hannah has mainly seen action on bars and floor during her career at Illinois and earned a spot in the lineup as a senior. The Butler, Pa., native competed at the 2010 Big Ten Championships on uneven bars and scored career highs on both her events in 2012 with a 9.850 on bars and a 9.775 on floor. As a broadcast journalism major, she was an Academic All-Big Ten selection in 2010.
Scouting the Competition
Kentucky is coming off a season-high 195.525 in a tri-meet against Auburn and Pittsburgh, as the Wildcats improved to 5-6 overall this year. Kentucky owns an RQS of 194.450, which ranked 27th nationally. The top event for the Wildcats is vault (26th, 48.750) followed by uneven bars (29th, 48.615), beam (29th, 48.345) and floor (25th, 48.640). Last year, Illinois and Kentucky faced off in a season-opening tri-meet in Memorial Coliseum with UK finishing first with a 194.350. The Fighting Illini were second with a 193.65, while Northern Illinois was third with a 189.075. The Wildcats have never faced Illinois in Champaign.
A Look Back
No. 18 Illinois hit its final 18 routines at the UIC Physical Education Building, but it wasn't enough to overcome a slow start on bars, as the Illini fell 195.250-193.975 to the Flames. The Orange and Blue, who only hit two bar routines in the first rotation to score a 46.850, bounced back with their second-highest season marks on vault (48.900) and floor (49.175) before closing the contest with a season-best score of 49.050 on beam.
Senior Kelsey Joannides, who won three titles for the second meet in a row, took the top spot on beam with a 9.875, grabbed first on floor by equaling a career-high 9.900 and matched a career best in the all-around with a 39.375. The Frederick, Md., native also tied for second on bars with a 9.775 and finished fourth on vault with a 9.825. She leads the squad with a career-high 13 individual titles this season, which is already tied for the 10th-most for a single season in program history. Sophomore Amber See captured her first vault title of the year with a career-high 9.925, which tied the second-best score in school history.
Joannides Leads All-Around Trio
Illinois has showcased three all-around competitors during the 2012 season and each has earned the top spot at a meet this season. Senior Kelsey Joannides owns four titles, including at each of the past two meets with a 39.350 at Arizona State and a career high-tying 39.375 at UIC. She also notched a 39.300 in a runner-up showing at Michigan and boasts five scores over 39. Junior Alina Weinstein, who has four scores over 39, turned in the ninth-best performance in school history with a career-high 39.400 at Michigan and notched her second-highest score of 39.225 at Arizona State. Sophomore Amber See made her career debut in the all-around at Iowa with a 39.100 and tied for first against Ohio State with a personal-best score of 39.175.
A Must "See" on Floor
Sophomore Amber See, who is tied for eighth in the nation on floor with an average of 9.885, has won the event crown five times this season, including at each of the first four meets and against Michigan State. The Minnetonka, Minn., native opened the year with a 9.850 followed by three consecutive 9.9s to earn top honors. She grabbed the runner-up spot with a 9.875 in a loaded field at the Chicago Style Invitational and has not finished outside the top three after also taking second at UIC and third at Arizona State. She has notched a score of 9.800 or higher at each of the last 14 meets dating back to last season and owns six career floor titles.
Illinois has scored over a 195 in five of the first eight meets of 2012, which is tied for the most number of times they have eclipsed that mark in the first eight meets in program history. The Illini did the same last season on their way to recording a school-record 11 scores of 195 or higher in 14 competitions. The Orange and Blue boast an RQS of 195.155 along with a season-high 195.775 against Arizona State. They also turned in the highest season opener ever with a 194.725 against Minnesota.
Taking the Top Spot
Illini gymnasts have totaled 31 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.
Junior Elise Gill earned her first career title by tying for first on floor with See, who also took first in the all-around against Michigan State. Joannides notched three titles at Arizona State (VT, BB, AA) and again at UIC (BB, FX, AA) while Weinstein nabbed her first floor crown with a career high (9.900) at ASU and See tied the second-best score in school history (9.925) to win on vault at UIC. Joannides again now leads the team with 13 victories this season followed by See with nine and Weinstein with four.
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 Illini score this season. Along with her victories, she also tied for third on vault (9.825) and floor (9.875) with season-high scores.
All Tied Up...Again
Ties in dual meets are a rare occurrence for Illinois gymnastics, as the Illini did not have a single dual meet tie during the program's first 37 years of competition. Last season, Illinois had its first tied dual meet ever when they finished at 195.350 along with Ohio State in Columbus. This year, the Orange and Blue have already twice ended a meet with the same team total as their opponent. Illinois tied with Iowa on Jan. 21 at 195.075 and with Michigan State on Feb. 17 at 195.175.
Illini in the Rankings
The Illini came in at No. 21 in the national rankings with an RQS of 195.155. Illinois spent the first two weeks of the season at No. 15 and reached as high as No. 14 before spending two weeks apiece at No. 19 and No. 18. The remainder of the year's rankings are based on a team's regional qualifying score, while the first six weeks were based on season average. Regional Qualifying Score (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. Over the past three seasons, the Orange and Blue have been ranked for 30 straight weeks.
The Orange and Blue are ranked in the top 25 on three events, including T-10th on beam (48.935), 14th on floor (49.005) and 18th on bars (48.835). Individually, sophomore Amber See is tied for eighth on floor (9.885) while senior Kelsey Joannides is tied for 15th on beam (9.850) and 18th in the all-around (39.195).
A Look Ahead
Illinois will go on the road for its final dual meet of the season at Western Michigan on Sunday, March 11 at noon.
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