Freshman Melissa Fernandez
April 4, 2008
Get behind the scenes of Illinois Gymnastics with Illini Ink - the weekly women's gymnastics journal. In this week's edition, freshman Melissa Fernandez talks about Big Ten Championship weekend.
Hey Illini Fans!
This past weekend we headed up to Ann Arbor, Michigan for the Big Ten Conference Championships. Our trip started on Thursday with an afternoon bus ride. We watched movies and some of us studied for upcoming exams. We stopped for a delicious dinner at Ruby Tuesdays then shortly after, we arrived to our hotel. Friday was our practice day at Crisler Arena. Our locker room we used was awesome - there were recliners, computers and a big screen TV! During our bye rotations we played Balderdash. It was quite funny to hear what each one of us thought the definition of the word was (for those of you who don't know...Balderdash is a `bluff' game)! After practice, we quickly got dressed up and headed to the banquet dinner. Our seniors were recognized and Al was named to the First Team All-Big Ten! The most exciting part of the night was our draw. Talk about suspenseful!!! Ironically, we picked the same rotation as we had practiced earlier in the day! We were all pretty excited about that, especially Suki.
Saturday we headed to the meet prepared and excited. This was my first experience at a Big Ten Championships and it was so much fun! The atmosphere was amazing. The crowd was loud and the energy was high. We started the meet off strong on floor. The momentum carried into vault where we scored a 49.100 - to tie for the third highest score in school history. With such a great performance on vault, we were all pumped up and very ready for bars. Sarah earned a 9.9 which was good for a 3rd place finish. Next up was beam - the event we've struggled on all season. With a week of solid beam practices and great warm-ups, the beam team had no doubts about turning in a great performance. And that's exactly what we did! Julie ended the meet with a near flawless routine, scoring a 9.9 to become the 2008 Big Ten beam champion!
At the awards ceremony, Al was nominated for Big Ten Freshman of the Year and she won! We were all very happy for her. Our team earned quite a few individual places on the awards stand, but the most important one was when they announced the team awards. We knew we were pretty close with Penn State for 2nd place, so when they called out, `Penn State' for 3rd place we were so excited! All our hard work paid off and we were finally able to prove exactly what our team is capable of.
But that's not the end for us. We'll be headed to Norman, Oklahoma for Regionals. After a great showing at Big Tens we have just the confidence we need to achieve our biggest goal - to make NCAA Nationals!
Thanks for reading!!