Sophomore Amber See and the Illini will host the NCAA Champaign Regional on Saturday at 4 p.m.
April 2, 2012
No. 22 Illinois will host the NCAA Champaign Regional this Saturday, April 7 at 4 p.m. CT at the Assembly Hall. The Illini, who will serve as a regional host for the first time in program history, are the four seed in the six-team field and will welcome No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 11 Stanford, No. 14 Denver, No. 24 Kentucky and UIC. Illinois will begin regional competition on vault and will rotate as follows: vault, bye, bars, beam, bye, floor. The Illini will attempt to qualify for the NCAA Championships in back-to-back years for the first time in program history, as they earned their second-ever national berth last season and ended the year 11th in the nation. Links for live scoring and streaming for the NCAA Champaign Regional can be found above.
Fan Village and Ticket Information
A "Fan Village," which will feature a sign-making station, temporary tattoos and a balloon artist, will be open to the public on the main level of the Assembly Hall in Room 133/134 when the doors open at 3 p.m. Tickets for the event are $10 for adult and $6 for youth general admission and are available through the UI Athletic Ticket Office by calling 1-866-ILLINI-1. Parking is free in lots around the Assembly Hall.
This is Illinois' 25th overall trip to the NCAA Regional Championships and ninth straight year they have received a regional invite. They will enter the Champaign Regional seeded fourth in the field of six teams that are vying for the two qualifying spots to the NCAA Championships. No. 2 Oklahoma (197.360), No. 11 Stanford (196.410) and No. 14 Denver (196.090) are the three seeded teams assigned to the regional, while No. 22 Illinois (195.695), No. 24 Kentucky (195.490) and UIC (194.940) round out the regional as seeds 4-6, respectively. Along with the six teams that qualified for the regional, individual competitors from Illinois State, Northern Illinois, Southeast Missouri State and Texas Woman's will compete as event specialists and in the all-around.
Advancing to the Next Level
The top two teams from each of the six regional sites around the country will advance to the National Collegiate Championships April 20-22 in Duluth, Ga. In addition, the top two all-arounders not on a qualifying team advance, as well as each event winner if they are not already qualified with a team or as an all-arounder.
Last Year at Regionals
Last season, Illinois earned its second-ever trip to the NCAA Championships following a runner-up finish at the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional. The Illini totaled a 195.925 to edge Penn State (195.850) for the final qualifying spot, while host Alabama won the regional crown with a 197.275. The Orange and Blue went on to achieve the best national finish in program history, as they placed 11th at the NCAA Championships and boasted six All-America honors.
A Look Back at Last Week - Joannides Shines at Big Tens
In her final conference meet, senior Kelsey Joannides won her second career Big Ten title, tying for first on beam with Nebraska's Emily Wong at 9.900. Joannides also turned in a career-best performance in the all-around with a 39.400 to tie for third overall and lead No. 23 Illinois to a fifth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Illini were the runner-up in the afternoon session with their second-best score this season of 195.850, which was just .025 behind Michigan (195.875) for the top spot.
Joannides, who won the Big Ten title on vault as a freshman, earned the 13th individual conference crown in school history and is the first two-time Big Ten champion at Illinois since the championships were officially recognized by the Big Ten in 1982-83. The Frederick, Md., native also reached the all-around podium for the first time after tying for third with Penn State's Sharaya Musser. She was named to the inaugural Big Ten All-Championship Team, which included the top three individuals on each event and in the all-around.
Illinois established the early lead during the afternoon session's first rotation with a 48.875 on floor. The Illini carried the momentum from the solid start to vault, where they tallied a 48.975 to maintain the session lead with a 97.850. A season and session-high 49.100 on bars kept Illinois out in front after the third rotation at 146.950. During the final rotation, Illinois totaled the top beam score of the entire meet with a 48.900, but the Wolverines finished with a 49.025 on bars to surpass the Orange and Blue in the session.
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. 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). See nabbed second-team honors after tying for the fourth-best RQS on floor (9.885) in the Big Ten.
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 20th (39.330), 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 tied for third in the all-around at the Big Ten Championships with a career-high 39.400, which tied the 10th-best score in school history, and boasts nine scores over 39. Junior Alina Weinstein has tallied eight 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. Weinstein came in sixth in the all-around at the Big Ten Championships with a 39.325. 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 22nd 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 did not finish outside the top four during the regular season. She has notched a score of 9.800 or higher at 17 of the last 18 meets dating back to last season and owns seven career floor titles.
Illinois has scored over a 195 in nine of 12 meets in 2012, which is tied for the most number of times they have eclipsed that mark in the first 12 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 moved up to No. 22 in the national rankings with an RQS of 195.695. 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 and 23 during the past two weeks. The rankings over the final six weeks of the season 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 34 straight weeks.
The Orange and Blue are ranked in the top 25 on three events, including 13th on beam (49.005), 20th on floor (49.070) and 23rd on bars (48.955). Individually, senior Kelsey Joannides is tied for seventh on beam (9.895) and 20th in the all-around (39.330), while sophomore Amber See is tied for 22nd on floor (9.885). Junior Alina Weinstein is also a top-25 all-arounder, as she is tied for 24th (39.290).
Weinstein Named Big Ten Gymnast of Week
Junior Alina Weinstein earned Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors for the first time in her career following a personal-best meet at Michigan. The Plainsboro, N.J., native scored a then-career high 39.400 in the all-around to take home top honors while also winning event titles on bars (9.875) and beam (9.825). Weinstein's all-around score tied the ninth-best mark in school history at the time and ranked as the top Illini score this season until she broke her own mark with a career-high 39.425 at the State of Illinois Classic. Along with her victories, she also tied for third on vault (9.825) and floor (9.875).
All Tied Up...Again
Ties in dual meets are a rare occurrence for Illinois gymnastics, as the Illini did not have a single dual meet tie during the program's first 37 years of competition. Last season, Illinois had its first tied dual meet ever when they finished at 195.350 along with Ohio State in Columbus. This year, the Orange and Blue have already twice ended a meet with the same team total as their opponent. Illinois tied with Iowa on Jan. 21 at 195.075 and with Michigan State on Feb. 17 at 195.175.
Taking the Top Spot
Illini gymnasts have totaled 49 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, who also won the fifth Big Ten beam title in program history, leads the team with 19 victories this season, which is tied for the fourth-most in school history, followed by Weinstein with 12 and See with 11.
New Year, New Look
The Illini lost two of the most decorated gymnasts in school history following the graduation of standout all-arounders Allison Buckley and Melissa Fernandez, who combined for seven of the 11 All-America honors in school history. Illinois also lost its leadoff on beam and floor in Samantha Perino, meaning it will need to replace 10 routines from a year ago. Despite the loss of those seniors, the Illini still return 14 routines, eight letterwinners, two All-Americans in senior Kelsey Joannides and junior Alina Weinstein, and a Big Ten champion in sophomore Amber See.
After having the interim tag removed over the summer, Landrus will remain at the helm for the Illini along with bars coach Jay Santos, who was promoted to Associate Head Coach, and new assistant coach Rodney Gust, who will serve as the vault and floor coach for the Illini. Volunteer assistant coach Jess Bartgis, who will help the coaching staff with coordinating floor music and choreography along with assisting on beam and floor. Along with the new faces on the coaching staff, the Illini also welcome six newcomers to the squad.
2011 in Review
Highest Finish in School History: In her first season as interim head coach, Kim Landrus led Illinois to its highest national ranking in school history, as the Illini wrapped up the year ranked No. 11 following their second-ever appearance at the NCAA Championships. The top-12 final rankings were based on team score at nationals, and the Orange and Blue scored a 195.100 in their semifinal, just in front of Kent State's 195.000 from the second session. Illinois ended the season in the top 25 for the sixth year in a row while its previous top finish came in 2009 when the Illini made their first NCAA appearance and placed 12th in the country.
Six Illini All-Americans: Heading into the NCAA Championships, Illinois gymnasts had earned five All-America honors in school history. The Illini more than doubled the record books by racking up six All-America accolades during the afternoon semifinal session at the Wolstein Center, giving the UI program 11 total All-Americans. Senior Melissa Fernandez was responsible for half the honors, leading the way with a pair of first-team All-America honors on beam and in the all-around along with a second-team nod on floor. Senior Allison Buckley and sophomore Alina Weinstein were also second-team All-Americans on floor while junior Kelsey Joannides garnered the distinction on vault for placing among the top eight in the session.
Big Ten Vault Champion: Freshman Amber See tied for the Big Ten vault title with a 9.900, giving the Illini a freshman champion on the event for the second time in three years after Kelsey Joannides captured the top spot in 2009. See earned a career high on the event for the second time and tied for the top spot with Penn State's Sharaya Musser, giving Illinois its 12th individual conference crown in school history.
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