Freshman Hannah Welker
March 4, 2009
Get behind the scenes of Illinois Gymnastics with Illini Ink - the weekly women's gymnastics journal. In this week's edition, freshman Hannah Welker talks about a great month of February for the Illini squad and this weekend's "Senior Day" meet against UIC.
Hey Illini Fans!
First off, I apologize for the lack of updates over these past few weeks with the Illini Ink. We have all been so busy with traveling, competitions, and school, but we are ready to get back on track to get you informed on the exciting things that are happening in and out of the gym with Illinois gymnastics.
It is hard to believe that it is already the month of March. Wow, time just flies when we are competing every weekend. For a little recap on the month of February, last month was really exciting and a confidence builder for the Illini as a team. We started out the month with a win at the Chicago Style Invite, which really showed us that we could do well on the road. While the team excelled, so did freshman Kelsey Joannides, by winning her first all-around title of her collegiate career.
The following weekend was our competition at Missouri. The competition was really neat because it was their "Beauty and the Beast Meet", which involved gymnastics and wrestling competing side-by-side in the same arena. It was a nice change of scenery for us all, and really gave the crowd something different to cheer for. Although we did not come out on top, we set the team school vault record, which was a great accomplishment for us.
That weekend wasn't over yet, though. While we competed on a Friday at Missouri, we traveled home on Saturday, and competed in our "Pink Meet" on Sunday, which supported breast cancer awareness. All of the fans wore pink, which changed things up once again. The weekend was topped off with a nearly flawless performance from the Illini, which resulted in a school all-around team record of 196.70! The night was amazing, and along with the team record, senior Marijka Botterman claimed the vault school record of 9.950. The team also topped the school record on vault for the second meet in a row. With a weekend full of records, we were so excited to continue our training and competitions.
With two more meets on the road in the month of February, we were all excited to travel to Seattle and Kentucky to finish a great month. The trip to Seattle was a nice way to get away from the usual Illinois flat terrain, and to see some actual hills and mountains on the west coast. The competition went well, with a 2nd place finish to the home team, and also a win over the #9 ranked Oregon State Beavers. During our trip, we were lucky enough to do a bit of sight seeing, and saw the famous Space Needle and the local fish market, where some of the girls bought jewelry and clothing. We even got to visit the original Starbucks, which many of the coffee drinkers on the team enjoyed greatly.
With the month of February closing, we had one more competition to complete, and that was on the road again, in Kentucky. The competition was a five-team meet, and did not exactly turn out as we expected. We had some mistakes on the balance beam, which cost us a chance at the title, but we learned a lot from the competition, and realized that with many wins come occasional losses too. It was a humbling experience that helped us realize that we still have some work to do before Big Tens.
Well, I'm sorry that I was so long winded, but I hope this journal entry got you all caught up on Illini gymnastics. This weekend, we are finally back at Huff Hall for our final regular season home competition, which is our "Senior Meet", and is a dual meet with the men's team. Both the men and women will be competing against our state rival Illinois-Chicago. The meet should be a fun time, but will also be sad too, as our seniors Marijka, Lindsey, Julie, and Kim say goodbye to Huff Hall. They have all had tremendous careers here at Illinois and will truly be missed.
As the month of March is in full swing, we are all working extremely hard in the gym to prepare ourselves for the competition we have been waiting for, Big Tens! It is only three short weeks away, and each day is another stepping stone towards our goal of becoming Big Ten Champions!
I hope you've enjoyed this week's edition of Illini Ink and don't forget to come out and support the Fighting Illini as we take on the Illinois-Chicago Flames this Saturday at 2pm at Huff Hall! Don't forget that you have a chance to win the "I" package (I-pod, posters, media guides, and t-shirt) if you attend this meet and enter the raffle.