Big Ten Championships Await #13 Illini Saturday
March 19, 2014
For those Illini faithful making the trip to Penn State, single session tickets will be $10 for adults and $6 for those 12 and under. For any group of 20 or more, you can purchase single session tickets for $4 per person (any ages). Single session tickets are on sale now and will be available for purchase on the day of the competition at the Rec Building at least one hour prior to the event.
For those who can’t make it out, you can enjoy all the action from your living room, as the meet will air live on the Big Ten Network.
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS PREVIEW
The Orange and Blue also enter this weekend’s meet ranked as the best team in the Big Ten on balance beam with a RQS of 49.175. The score is tied for eighth best in the country, which also ties the squad’s season high ranking on the event. Illinois will receive stiff competition on beam as all evening session participants including Michigan are nationally ranked in the top-15.
Back to back Big Ten Champion Nebraska enters the meet ranked ninth in the country. The Cornhuskers shared the regular season Big Ten crown with Minnesota. Nebraska was the lone conference school to best the Illini last weekend, scoring a 197.050. NU has not scored below a 196.250 yet this season. Their best events are vault and beam where they are both ranked 10th in the country.
Minnesota claimed first place at the other Big Ten Quad Meet in Ann Arbor, scoring a 196.7. The Golden Gophers have scored at least a 196.025 for six straight weeks, including a season high of 197.250 on March 1. Minnesota’s best two events are vault and floor where they’re ranked ninth and eighth in the country.
Penn State will look to utilize home field advantage this Saturday. The Nittany Lions claimed second at the Ann Arbor Quad Meet with a 196.475. The week before on March 8, they posted a season high of 197.2. PSU recorded a 196.675 at Rec Hall vs. the Illini earlier this season.
Despite the afternoon session time slot, one cannot overlook Michigan who boasts the highest national team ranking at No. 8. Their RQS sits at 196.9 as they rank in the top-seven in every event except beam. The Wolverines were forced to count a fall on beam for the first time all year at the Big Ten Quad Meet, scoring a 48.075 on the event and then a 196.025 overall as a result. Michigan has tallied three scores above a 197 in 2014, including a season best 197.825 vs. UCLA and Utah on March 15. UM’s best event is floor, where they rank fifth in the country with a RQS of 49.415.
FOUR ALL-BIG TEN HONOREES
Amber See garnered her third career All-Big Ten selection and first First-Team nod. See becomes the seventh member of quite the prestigious group of Illini gymnasts who have received at least three all-conference awards (Denise Lamborn, Ashley Williams, Nicole Cowart, Cara Pomeroy, Allison Buckley and Kelsey Joannides). See is nationally ranked 31st on vault (9.89) and 13th on floor (9.910), while ranking seventh and fourth, respectively, on those events in the Big Ten.
A Second-Team selection last season, Sunny Kato emerged with her first First-Team honor as well. Kato is ranked 23rd nationally on beam and tied for fourth in the conference with a RQS of 9.87. Kato also specializes on the uneven bars where the junior is tied for 31st in the country and tied for third in the Big Ten (9.875).
Giana O’Connor earned her second consecutive Second-Team accolade after tying for eighth in the Big Ten on floor exercise with a RQS of 9.875 (T-38th nationally). The sophomore has tied her career high of 9.9 three times on the event this season and has not scored below a 9.825 in the last three meets. O’Connor is also ranked 12th in the conference in the all-around, boasting a RQS of 39.175.
Erin Buchanan’s solid first year donning the Orange and Blue was vindicated with a Second Team selection. The freshman is tied for eighth on vault in the Big Ten (T-41st nationally) with a 9.875 and 14th on floor with a 9.865.
LAST YEAR AT BIG TEN’S
ILLINI BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS HISTORY
ALL TIME SCHOOL RECORD HOLDER
Individually, Amber See is cementing a legacy of her own in her final season. See scored the third ever 10.0 on Feb. 21 and was the second to do so on vault, following in Alina Weinstein’s footsteps. In addition, See continues to excel on floor, posting a 9.95 on Feb. 23. Thus, See and Weinstein are the only two gymnasts to record three scores of 9.95 or higher on floor exercise in their career.
Freshman Erin Buchanan and junior Sunny Kato made their way onto the top performances list on March 8. Buchanan tallied the third highest vault score in school history with a 9.925 while Kato recorded the second highest beam score with a 9.925 as well.
SURPASSING THE 196 // 9.9
Illinois has received several tremendous performances from its gymnasts in 2014, as they have collectively scored a 9.9 or higher 29 times. Diving deeper, the Illini have recorded six 9.925’s, one 9.95 and one perfect 10. Freshmen Erin Buchanan and Emily Lennon have contributed a combined six scores of 9.9 or higher. Sarah Fiedler is recorded a career high 9.9 on beam on March 8 while fellow senior Liz McNabb recorded a career high 9.9 on beam on Jan. 31. Giana O’Connor accomplished a career high of 9.9 on beam on Feb. 23 and has tied her career high of 9.9 on floor three times this season. Sunny Kato has led the Illini on bars and beam, scoring a 9.9 or higher a total of seven times on both events. However, Amber See leads Illinois with ten total times she has hit the mark. See has achieved the feat four times on vault and an impressive six times on floor.
BIG TEN WEEKLY HONORS
On Feb. 24, the Illini picked up multiple Big Ten weekly honors in the same week for the first time in school history. After the double-header weekend, Amber See won Big Ten Event Specialist while Erin Buchanan won Big Ten Freshman of the Week. See earned the award after she scored a perfect 10 at the Illinois Classic and tied her career high of 9.950 on floor vs. Ohio State/Central Michigan.
Buchanan earned her third freshman of the week award after she finished in the top-five in vault and floor in both meets, including a 9.900 on vault. Buchanan previously won on Feb. 3 when she scored a 9.875 on both vault and floor in the win over Iowa, and again on Jan. 20 after setting a career high of 9.925 on floor. The Virginia native became the first Illini gymnast to win Freshman of the Week three times in a season.
On Feb. 17 the conference office delivered Emily Lennon her first collegiate award in the form of Big Ten Freshman of the Week. Lennon scored a 9.825 on vault and set a new career best of 9.900 on beam at Penn State. As a result, Buchanan and Lennon made history, becoming the first Illinois duo to both win Freshman of the Week in the same season.
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
Amber See boasts the highest individual ranking amongst Illini gymnasts, checking in at No. 13 on floor exercise. The senior’s RQS of 9.910 is also ranked fourth in the Big Ten. See has also excelled on vault, where she is tied for 31st in the country. Sunny Kato leads the squad on bars and beam, ranked 31st and 23rd, respectively. The junior’s bars RQS of 9.875 is tied for third in the conference while her beam RQS of 9.87 is tied for fourth in the Big Ten.
Giana O’Connor’s surge at the end of the regular season has boosted the sophomore to two top-50 rankings. O’Connor has scored a 39.1 or higher in the last three meets and in five of the previous six. As a result, the Streamwood, Ill., native is tied for 39th in the country in the all-around with a 39.175 RQS, which also leads all Illini gymnasts. Lastly, O’Connor’s best event can be found on floor exercise where the sophomore is ranked 38th with a 9.875 RQS.