#19 Illini Take on Mizzou Then Return for Senior Day
March 8, 2013
Week 9 Notes:
#19 Fighting Illini at Missouri Tigers
March 8, 2013 // 6:30 p.m. CT // Columbia, Mo. // Hearnes Center
#19 Fighting Illini vs UIC & Ball State - 'Senior Day'
March 10, 2013 // 2 p.m. CT // Champaign, Ill. // Huff Hall
The Illinois women's gymnastics program once again enters the week ranked No. 19 in the country as they ready themselves for two meets this weekend. First up, the Illini participate in Border War action as they travel to Columbia, Mo., to take on the No. 22 Missouri Tigers. The meet is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. CT inside the Hearnes Center on Friday, March 8. The two squads last met in a 2012 quad meet on Feb. 10, where the Tigers edged out the Illini by 0.425. Next, Illinois returns home for their `Senior Day' meet on Sunday, March 10, when they host Ball State and UIC at 2 p.m. CT. Seniors Alina Weinstein, Jaclyn Kantecki, Elise Gill and Macy Hyatt will be honored.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
Missouri enters the contest ranked No. 37 in the country with a RQS of 194.425. Their best event is the uneven bars where they rank 29th with a RQS of 48.750. The Tigers also have top-50 rankings on vault (39th - 48.740) and beam (35th - 48.470). Mizzou is coming off of a second place showing in a quad meet against Arkansas, Centenary and Lindenwood. Before that, the Tigers had a four meet losing streak, dropping meets to Auburn, LSU, Kentucky and Georgia. Finally, Mizzou boasts a 15-6 series record against the Illini during the regular season.
Meanwhile, Ball State looks to shake a five meet losing streak, dropping decisions to Kentucky, Kent State, Eastern Michigan, Bowling Green and Western Michigan. Ball State is ranked 47th in the country (193.585) with their best event being vault (35th - 48.780). UIC enters the fray ranked 50th with a RQS of 193.315. The Flames are coming off of a victory over Western Michigan. Furthermore, UIC has posted a season high of 195.850 this year.
A LOOK BACK
Despite missing out on six routines they utilized last weekend, the #19 University of Illinois women's gymnastics team not only made adjustments but also made strides by improving upon last week's score (195.450) by tallying a 195.775, which was also above their season average. In addition, the Illini scored above a 49 in both vault and floor as senior Alina Weinstein captured event titles in both. However, #22 Penn State walked away with the win after posting a 196.300. Furthermore, the Illini posted a season high 49.075 on vault.
Alina Weinstein has already left her signature mark on the program. In her senior year alone, Weinstein broke the Illinois records on both floor and the all-around, tallying a 9.975 and 39.600, respectively. Weinstein's 30 career titles move the N.J. native into sole possession of eighth place on the all time career title list. In 2012, Weinstein became the 10th individual in program history to qualify for the NCAA National Championships in the all-around. In addition, she became the second person in history to claim a NCAA Regional All-Around Championship and the second Illini ever to win multiple regional titles after obtaining first on beam as well. Finally, in 2011, Weinstein captured second team All-America honors on floor after tying for eighth at the NCAA Championships.
Jacyln Kantecki began her four year career by winning a vault title with a career high of 9.850. In her sophomore campaign, Kantecki won her first title on bars with a season high 9.825. A year later, Kantecki ranked fourth on the team with three event titles and produced 13 top-five finishes. Furthermore, the Bridgeview native set career highs on bars (9.875) and beam (9.800). Last but not least, Kantecki is a two-time Academic All-Big Ten selection.
Macy Hyatt's journey got off to a rough start when the Atlanta native suffered a season-ending elbow injury in her freshman year. Hyatt bounced back in her sophomore year where she competed and counted her score on bars for seven meets, recording a career high 9.850. Hyatt had the opportunity to perform on bars at the Big Ten Championships in both 2011 and 2012. In addition, Hyatt captured her first career event title when she tied for first on bars with a 9.775 in her junior year.
After earning the Scholastic All-American award in her first two years at Illinois, Gill broke out in her junior season. The Afton, Minn. native competed on vault and floor at every meet, hitting 24 of 26 routines. Gill celebrated her first career title when she posted a 9.825 on floor. Gill concluded the year with 14 top-five finishes while setting career highs on vault (9.850) and floor (9.825).
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 on Feb. 16. The New Jersey native started the meet by scoring a 9.875 on the first three events. 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.
SENIOR YEAR SUCCESS
Alina Weinstein currently sits with 13 titles in 2013 and 30 on her career. The senior is one individual title away from tying her season high mark of 14 from a year ago, which was the ninth highest season total in program history. Her 30 career titles places Weinstein in sole possession of eighth place on the all-time career title list. Weinstein is now two titles away from tying No. 7 Kim Berres (1996-99) while former teammate Kelsey Joannides sits three titles away and is sixth all-time. Furthermore, Weinstein is fresh off of capturing her fifth floor title on the year, as the senior has now claimed the floor title in the past four meets, dating back to Feb. 9 at Minnesota. Also, Weinstein captured her second vault title of the season against Penn State by tying the second highest individual score on the event in program history with a 9.925.
Though she may be a sophomore, 2013 marks the first year of competition for Sunny Kato, who experienced a season ending injury a year ago. The California native has been a fierce competitor for the Illini on the bars and beam, not scoring below a 9.800 on beam in the last three meets. In fact, Kato has produced the highest score on bars for the Orange and Blue for the past three out of four meets. Kato earned her first collegiate title at Michigan, when she tied for first on beam with a 9.825. Furthermore, in front of 2,316 fans at Gym Jam, Kato set a career high 9.900 on bars and walked away with her first title in said event. One week later at Ohio State, Kato set a new career high on beam with a 9.900 as well.
Giana O'Connor has impressed many along the way in her freshman campaign. O'Connor has competed in the all-around in all eight meets this season, scoring at least a 39 in five of them, including the last two. In the first home meet against Michigan State, O'Connor produced a season high mark of 39.250. A week later at Nebraska, O'Connor's 39.050 edged out teammate and Illinois all-around record holder Alina Weinstein for the first time all season and earned the Streamwood, Ill. native Big Ten Freshman of the Week. O'Connor currently has season high scores of 9.825 on vault, 9.800 on bars and 9.850 on beam and floor.
BIG TEN WEEKLY HONORS
On Feb. 11, 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 the next 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.
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.
FINDING THE MARK
The Illini have scored a 195 or above in six of their eight meets this season. In addition, Illinois has eclipsed the 196 mark twice, already besting last year's squad. The Fighting Illini will look to tie the 2011 squad this weekend, who hit the 196 or above score three times. In the past five years, the 2010 squad did it best, achieving the feat an impressive six times.
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
The Illini once again check in at the No. 19 spot in the latest Troester Top-25 poll. The Orange and Blue have displayed great success on floor where their current RQS stands above a 49 and ranks 22nd in the nation. The Illini's highest ranking though is found on the balance beam, where their RQS of 48.945 has them firmly planted in the No. 16 spot.
Individually, Alina Weinstein is nationally ranked in the Top-10 in both the all-around (9th - 39.405) and floor (8th - 9.905). This marks the first time this feat has been achieved since March 2011, when Allison Buckley was ranked ninth in the all-around and fifth on floor. Furthermore, Weinstein's RQS score in the all-around is the fourth best amongst all Big Ten gymnasts. In addition, Giana O'Connor boasts a Top-50 ranking as the freshman is ranked 28th in the all-around with a 39.080.