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    Illini Trio Earns All-Big Ten Honors
    Illinois' three All-Big Ten selections: Kelsey Joannides, Melissa Fernandez and Allison Buckley.

    Illinois' three All-Big Ten selections: Kelsey Joannides, Melissa Fernandez and Allison Buckley.

    March 18, 2011

    Big Ten Banquet and Friday Practice Photo Gallery

    MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Three Illini earned All-Big Ten honors, as selected by the coaches, on Friday night when the 2011 Women's Gymnastics All-Conference teams were announced at the Big Ten Championships banquet at Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium. Seniors Allison Buckley and Melissa Fernandez were named to the first team, while junior Kelsey Joannides garnered second-team All-Big Ten honors.

    "It shows that we are continuing to be a force in the Big Ten," interim head coach Kim Landrus said. "The Big Ten Conference is very strong, especially this year with such a tight race between the top teams. Having three All-Big Ten selections is not only a great accomplishment for those gymnasts, but representative of the strength of our whole team."

    Buckley collected first-team accolades for the third time in her career, as she also earned the honor in 2008 and 2010. The Schaumburg, Ill., native set the Illinois all-around record with a 39.550 on March 12 at the State of Illinois Classic and broke the school record for career event titles on Senior Day, surpassing Olympian Nancy Thies' old mark of 58. She now owns 62 career crowns, including a team-best 20 titles this season. She also tied her own school record on beam with a 9.950 and has twice been named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week. Buckley is currently ranked sixth on vault, 14th on bars, tied for sixth on beam, tied for first on floor and third in the all-around heading into the conference showdown. Buckley has earned conference honors all four years after also being a second-team selection in 2009.

    "Allison has continued to get better every year and this season was no exception," Landrus said. "It is a wonderful accomplishment to be a four-time All-Big Ten member, so she should feel honored. This award represents all her hard work, dedication and love for the orange and blue."

    Fernandez notched first-team All-Big Ten honors for the second year in a row after competing at every meet this season, including six times scoring over a 39 in the all-around. The Eudora, Kan., native equaled a career high in the all-around with a 39.375 against Western Michigan and is tied for second on the team with seven individual titles this season. In the conference, she ranks 21st on vault, eighth on bars, tied for sixth on beam, 19th on floor and fifth in the all-around heading into Big Tens.

    "Melissa has really come into her own during her junior and senior year," Landrus said. "She has been such a wonderful leader and is one of the hardest workers in the gym. Being a two-time first-team All-Big Ten recipient really encompasses everything she has done."

    Joannides picked up Big Ten honors for the second time after also being named to the second team as a freshman in 2009. The Frederick, Md., native has competed at all 11 meets and is tied for second on the squad with seven event titles. She has set or tied a career high on vault (9.925), bars (9.800) and beam (9.900) this season. Joannides is ranked ninth on vault, fourth on beam and 14th on floor in the conference.

    "Kelsey was on a mission this season," Landrus said. "She really learned from the adversity she faced during her sophomore year and has worked extremely hard every day. She has given her best at every practice and competition this year to get back to this level."

    The Illini were one of four teams to pick up a pair of first-team selections along with Iowa, Penn State and Ohio State while Michigan led the conference with three first teamers. Last season, the Orange and Blue had four All-Big Ten selections, including three first-team nods. A full list of conference honorees can be found below.

    Along with All-Big Ten selections, sophomore Elise Gill (Afton, Minn.) was named Illinois' honoree for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.

    In addition to the awards, the rotation order was drawn for Saturday's Big Ten Championships. The Illini will begin the competition on a bye and then move to beam in rotation 2. Illinois full rotation order goes like this: bye, beam, bye, floor, bye, vault, bars.

    The Fighting Illini compete at the Big Ten Championships, hosted by Minnesota, on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT. The Championships will take place at the Sports Pavilion and be televised live on the Big Ten Network. Mike Leiderman, Eddie Umphrey and Elise Ray will call the action. Individual awards, including Gymnast, Freshman and Coach of the Year, will be released at the conclusion of the competition.

    Watch pre-Big Ten Championship interviews from: Kim Landrus | Allison Buckley | Melissa Fernandez

    2011 Women's Gymnastics All-Conference Teams

    Allison Buckley, Illinois
    Melissa Fernandez, Illinois

    Jessa Hansen, Iowa
    Rebecca Simbhudas, Iowa
    Natalie Beilstein, Michigan
    Kylee Botterman, Michigan
    Jordan Sexton, Michigan
    Colleen Dean, Ohio State
    Sarah Miller, Ohio State
    Natalie Ettl, Penn State
    Sharaya Musser, Penn State

    Kelsey Joannides, Illinois
    Houry Gebeshian, Iowa
    Sarah Curtis, Michigan
    Jackie Berg, Michigan State
    Kendra Elm, Minnesota
    Kristin Furukawa, Minnesota
    Kayla Slechta, Minnesota
    Melanie Shaffer, Ohio State
    Madison Merriam, Penn State

    2011 Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Sportsmanship Honorees
    Elise Gill, Illinois
    Jessa Hansen, Iowa
    Trish Wilson, Michigan
    Kathryn Mahoney, Michigan State
    Kristin Furukawa, Minnesota
    Nicole Krauter, Ohio State
    Natalie Ettl, Penn State

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