#17 Illini heading to Morgantown Regional
March 25, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois women's gymnastics team huddled around a T.V. this afternoon inside Kenney Gym and learned their NCAA post-season fate as the Illini will travel to the Morgantown Regional. The achievement marks the 10th year in a row that the Orange and Blue received a regional invite.
"I'm really excited to be with two Big Ten familiar foes in Michigan and Nebraska along with the rest of the field with Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia," said Illinois head coach Kim Landrus. "I think it's a great opportunity. West Virginia is going to host a great championships and our girls are really excited about the draw."
The Illini earned one of the top-18 seeds, entering this week ranked 17th in the country. West Virginia is set to host the Morgantown Regional on April 6, whose top-three seeded teams all hail from the Big Ten conference with #17 lllinois, #5 Michigan and #8 Nebraska. Kentucky and North Carolina will also be competing as they round out the field of competing teams. In addition, five all-around gymnasts and one specialist for each event from teams that did not qualify for regionals will be performing.
Illinois, Michigan and Nebraska all competed at the Big Ten Championships this past weekend as the Morgantown Regional has been set-up as a mini conference rematch. The Illini scored a season high 196.475, winning the first session and taking fourth overall. Meanwhile, Michigan took second with a 197.225 while Nebraska obtained first with a score of 197.8.
"It's really important to have great momentum," said senior Alina Weinstein. "We just came off of a really great meet at Big Ten's where it was a total team effort. We made great strides in areas that we didn't believe at first. Confidence is key heading into regionals and it's all about having the right attitude and taking advantage of the opportunity."
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. 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. The other five regional sites include Columbus, Ohio, Corvallis, Ore., Gainesville, Fla., Norman, Okla. and Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Illinois will start the meet on a bye before heading to floor for the second rotation. Next, the Illini go to vault, then sit out one last bye before finishing up on bars and beam. Pennsylvania's Kirsten Strausbaugh will rotate with the Orange and Blue as an individual qualifier and compete last at each rotation.
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 19-21 in Los Angeles, Calif inside the Pauley Pavilion. 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.
"I want to see excitement, drive and the willingness to strive for perfection," continued Landrus. "I think when you put all that stuff together everyday in practice, and then go to the meet where you just do the same thing, it will turn out well for you."
Live scoring of the Morgantown Regional will be available on fightingillini.com and wvusports.com as well as two live video feeds in which one will split vault and floor and the other split beam and bars. Tickets are $12 each when purchased in advance online at WVUGAME.com or by calling the Mountaineer Ticket Office at 1-800-WVU-GAME. Groups of 10 or more can receive a special group rate of $9 per person in advance as well. Finally, tickets will be sold at the door for $15 each on the day of the meet as parking at the WVU Coliseum will be free.
Morgantown Regional (West Virginia University, host) - 6 p.m.
5. West Virginia
6. North Carolina
1. Austyn Fobes, New Hampshire
2. Luisa Leal, Rutgers
3. Kirsten Strausbaugh, Pennsylvania
4. Alexis Gunzelman, Rutgers
5. Kayla Gray, New Hampshire
Alt. - Joyce Li, Yale
Individual Event Specialists
Vault - Hannah Barile, New Hampshire
Alt. - Jenna Williams, Rutgers
Uneven Bars - Jenna Williams, Rutgers
Alt. - Jen Aucoin, New Hampshire
Balance Beam - Claudia Salinas, Rutgers
Alt. - Megan Milavec, Pennsylvania
Floor Exercise - Hannah Barile, New Hampshire
Alt. - Danielle D'Elia, Rutgers