Illinois is headed to Seattle for the 2009 West Regional
March 23, 2009
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Regional selections for the 2009 National Collegiate Women's Gymnastics Championships were announced Monday afternoon by the NCAA, and Bob Starkell's 14th-ranked Fighting Illini squad earned the third seed in the West Regional, which will take place at Bank of America Arena in Seattle on Saturday, April 4. The top two teams from each of the six, six-team regionals across the country will advance to the NCAA Championships.
The regional invite is the sixth in a row for the Orange and Blue and marks the first time in school history that Illinois has received one of the coveted top-18 seeds. Each of the six regionals is made up of three seeded teams that are ranked among the top 18 in the nation. The No. 19 to No. 36 squads in the nation then fill in the remaining three spots in each regional.
This is Illinois' 22nd overall trip to the NCAA Regional Championships. The Illini's best finish at a regional meet is third, which was last year at the South Central Regional. The Illini have never qualified for the national championships as a team, but coming off a school record score (196.750) and a second place finish at the Big Ten Championships, Starkell and the Illini have high hopes of making their first trip to nationals this year.
Six teams, plus up to five all-around competitors (who are not on a qualifying team) and one individual specialist per event were named to six regions across the country. The other five regional sites include Columbus, Ohio (Central), Iowa City, Iowa (North Central), Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Northeast), Fayetteville, Ark. (South Central) and Raleigh, N.C. (Southeast).
Illinois will begin regional competition on the floor exercise and will rotate as follows: floor, vault, bye, bars, beam, bye. Individual all-around qualifier Sophia Hocini of California will rotate with the Illini and compete last at each rotation after all of the Illinois gymnasts are finished.
The top two teams and the top two all-arounders (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the National Collegiate Gymnastics Championships April 16-18 in Lincoln, Neb. In addition, the event winners at the regional championships will advance to the national championships (in that event only) if they are not part of a qualifying team or the all-around qualifiers.
Joining the Illini in Seattle will be No. 2 Utah, No. 11 Auburn, No. 19 Boise State, host Washington and San Jose State. Illinois is currently ranked 14th in the nation with a Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) of 196.015. Also joining the teams in the West Regional will be five all-around gymnasts and one specialist for each event from teams that did not qualify for regional competition. The Fighting Illini have experience competing in Bank of America Arena this season, as they faced Washington, Oregon State and Eastern Michigan in a quad meet on Feb. 21, taking second to the host Huskies with a score of 195.900.
At last year's South Central Regional in Tucson, Ariz., the Illini finished third with a score of 195.425 to earn their best regional finish in school history and narrowly miss out on an NCAA Championship bid. No. 4 Alabama (197.350) took the regional title, while No. 10 Oklahoma (195.875) edged the 24th-ranked Fighting Illini for the second team qualifying spot to the NCAA Championships. Though the team came up just short, Illini freshman Allison Buckley and sophomore Nicole Cowart both qualified for the NCAA Championships in the all-around.
Free live video and live scores of the West Regional will be available at fightingillini.com and gohuskies.com. Tickets for the event are $10 for reserved, $8 for adult general admission and $6 for youth/senior general admission and are available through the Husky Ticket Office. Fans can purchase tickets online through GoHuskies.com or by calling (206) 543-2200.
Complete regional assignments can be found HERE.
2009 NCAA West Regional
April 4, 2009 // 6 p.m. PT / 8 CT // Seattle, Wash. (University of Washington)
Qualifying Teams (RQS)
No. 2 Utah (197.190)
No. 11 Auburn (196.410)
No. 14 Illinois (196.015)
No. 19 Boise State (195.590)
No. 33 Washington (194.810)
No. 34 San Jose State (194.775)