Sophomore Elizabeth McNabb and the Illini will compete at the Big Ten Championships on Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
March 21, 2012
The No. 23 Fighting Illini (7-6-2) will travel to Iowa City for the Big Ten Championships, hosted by Iowa on Saturday, March 24. The Illini, who are 2-1-2 against the Big Ten this season, have won back-to-back meets and are coming off a season-high 196.150 at the State of Illinois Classic. Last year, the Orange and Blue took third at the conference championship, marking their fourth top-three finish in the past five years. The Illini are seeded sixth and will compete in the afternoon session beginning at 1 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The meet will be aired live by the Big Ten Network with Lisa Byington handling play-by-play duties and analysis from Kylee Kolarik.
This year's competition will feature eight teams and two sessions due to the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten Conference. Teams seeded five through eight will take part in the afternoon session at 1 p.m., while the top four seeds will compete in the evening session at 6 p.m. The conference showdown will be one of the most competitive in history, as all eight teams have an RQS in the top 31 in the nation, including six ranked in the Top 25. Nebraska, which is ranked sixth in the country, will enter as the No. 1 seed followed by No. 2 Penn State (12th), No. 3 Ohio State (13th) and No. 4 Minnesota (16th). The final four squads include No. 5 Michigan (21st), No. 6 Illinois (23rd), No. 7 Iowa (28th) and No. 8 Michigan State (31st). Michigan is the five-time defending champion and has won a total of 19 Big Ten crowns. Ohio State and Minnesota each have five titles, while Illinois won its only Big Ten Championship in 1990.
Big Ten Championships Schedule & Rankings
Afternoon Session - 1 p.m. Seed Team (Rank) RQS 5 Michigan (21) 195.710 6 ILLINOIS (23) 195.545 7 Iowa (28) 194.995 8 MSU (31) 194.840
Evening Session - 6 p.m. Seed Team (Rank) RQS 1 Nebraska (6) 196.960 2 Penn State (12) 196.230 3 Ohio State (13) 196.115 4 Minnesota (16) 195.880
Three All-Big Ten Honorees
Three Illini earned All-Big Ten honors, as senior Kelsey Joannides was named to the first team, and junior Alina Weinstein and sophomore Amber See garnered second-team All-Big Ten honors.
Joannides, who was a first-team honoree for the first time, notched her third career All-Big Ten laurel after also being named to the second team in 2009 and 2011. The Frederick, Md., native is ranked third in the conference on beam (9.890) and fourth in the all-around (39.290). She is the squad's top all-arounder with eight scores over 39, including twice matching her career high of 39.375. Her top event is balance beam, where she is tied for sixth in the nation and equaled the fourth-best beam score in school history with a 9.925. She has hit 41-of-42 routines on the year and owns a team-high 18 individual titles, which is the fifth-most in a single season in program history.
Weinstein was recognized by the conference for the first time in her career with the second-team nod after ranking fifth in the Big Ten in the all-around (39.260). The Plainsboro, N.J., native has tallied seven scores over 39 in the all-around, which includes two of the top-10 scores in school history with a personal-best 39.425 (No. 7) and a 39.400 (No. 10). She also is second on the team with 12 individual titles and set career highs on vault (9.875), beam (9.875) and floor (9.900).
See nabbed second-team honors after tying for the fourth-best RQS on floor (9.885) in the Big Ten. The Minnetonka, Minn., native has won a team-high six floor titles and scored a 9.825 or higher on floor at 10 of 11 meets. She is third on the team with 11 individual titles and tied the second-best vault score in school history with a personal-best 9.925. She also turned in career highs on bars (9.825) and beam (9.850) and competed in the all-around five times, highlighted by a career-best 39.175.
Last Year at Big Tens
Illinois took third place at the 2011 Big Ten Championships with a score of 196.075. The Illini notched stellar showings on floor, vault and bars, recording a score over 49 on the final three events on their way to a top-three finish for the fourth time in five years. Individually, four gymnasts reached the podium with nine top-five finishes, led by freshman Amber See tying for the Big Ten vault title with a 9.900. Senior Melissa Fernandez tied for the runner-up spot in the all-around and also came in second on bars, while junior Kelsey Joannides tied for second on beam. Senior Allison Buckley was part of a 10-way tie for third on bars, tied for fourth on vault with Fernandez and equaled See for fourth on floor.
Illini Big Ten Championships History
Throughout the 30-year history of the meet, the Illini have claimed one Big Ten title after bringing home the 1990 crown with a score of 188.750 and have won 12 individual titles, with the last one coming in 2011 by Amber See on vault. Illinois is one of four programs to win the conference championship along with Michigan (19), Ohio State (5) and Minnesota (5). Since that win, Illinois' next best finishes came in 2008 and 2009, finishing as the runner-up both years. They took third in 2007 and again in 2011, marking the program's fourth top-three finish in the past five years.
A Look Back at Last Week
No. 22 Illinois captured its fifth-consecutive State of Illinois Classic crown with a season-high score of 196.150. The Illini, who turned in the high score on all four events, took the top spot among the four Division I programs from the state, placing ahead of runner-up UIC (194.550), Illinois State (194.350) and Northern Illinois (193.050). Orange and Blue gymnasts were among the winners on all four events along with sweeping the top two spots in the all-around.
Junior Alina Weinstein tied the seventh-best all-around score in school history with a career-high 39.425 to win her fourth AA title of the season, while senior Kelsey Joannides secured second by equaling her career best with a 39.375. Weinstein also tied for first on vault (9.825) with sophomore Amber See and shared top honors on bars (9.875) with junior Jaclyn Kantecki. Joannides, who now owns the fifth-most event titles by an Illini in a season with 18, placed first on beam and floor with a 9.900 on each.
Two Top-25 All-Arounders
Senior Kelsey Joannides and junior Alina Weinstein rank among the Top 25 all-arounders in the nation. Joannides, who is ranked 17th (39.290), owns five titles, including a 39.350 at Arizona State, a career high-tying 39.375 at UIC, a 39.250 vs. Kentucky and a 39.175 at Iowa and vs. Ohio State. She also matched her career high of 39.375 in a runner-up showing at the State of Illinois Classic and boasts eight scores over 39. Junior Alina Weinstein has tallied seven scores over 39 in the all-around, which includes two of the top-10 scores in school history with a personal-best 39.425 (No. 7) at the State of Illinois Classic and a 39.400 (No. 10) at Michigan. Sophomore Amber See, who has competed on all four events at five meets, 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 19th in the nation on floor with an RQS of 9.885, has won the event crown six times this season, including at each of the first four meets and against Michigan State and Kentucky. 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 four. She has notched a score of 9.800 or higher at 16 of the last 17 meets dating back to last season and owns seven career floor titles.
Illinois has scored over a 195 in eight of 11 meets in 2012, which is tied for the most number of times they have eclipsed that mark in the first 11 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 earned a season-high 196.150 at the State of Illinois Classic and turned in the highest season opener ever with a 194.725 against Minnesota.
Illini in the Rankings
The Illini came in at No. 23 in the national rankings with an RQS of 195.545. 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 Orange and Blue checked in at No. 21 following the first set of rankings based on RQS, then moved up to No. 19 before checking in at No. 22 a week ago. 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 33 straight weeks.
The Orange and Blue are ranked in the top 25 on three events, including 13th on beam (49.005), 18th on floor (49.070) and 22nd on bars (48.920). Individually, senior Kelsey Joannides is tied for sixth on beam (9.890) and 17th in the all-around (39.290), while sophomore Amber See is tied for 19th on floor (9.885). Junior Alina Weinstein is also a top-25 all-arounder, as she ranks 22nd (39.260).
Taking the Top Spot
Illini gymnasts have totaled 48 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 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.
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. The Illini boasted winners on every event against Kentucky, with Weinstein winning her first career vault title and taking first on bars, Joannides tying the fourth-best beam score (9.925) in school history for top honors and See earning her sixth floor crown of the season. Joannides and Weinstein also shared the all-around title against the Wildcats. Against Western Michigan, Weinstein took the top spot on vault and in the all-around, Kantecki was first on bars and Joannides nabbed the beam title.
Orange and Blue gymnasts were among the winners on all four events and in the all-around at the State of Illinois Classic. Weinstein tied the seventh-best all-around score in school history with a career-high 39.425, tied for first on vault with See and shared top honors on bars with Kantecki. Joannides placed first on beam and floor with a 9.900 on each. Joannides leads the team with 18 victories this season, which ranks as the fifth-most in school history, followed by Weinstein with 12 and See with 11.
A Look Ahead
The University of Illinois will host a 2012 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Regional on Saturday, April 7 at 4 p.m. (CT) at the Assembly Hall. The Illini will host an NCAA Regional for the first time in school history. NCAA Regional selections will be announced on Monday, March 26.
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