Freshman Julie Crall, who recorded a third-place finish on beam at Big Tens, will compete in her first regional championship this weekend in Fayetteville, Ark.
April 5, 2006
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -
The No. 30 Fighting Illini women's gymnastics team (10-4) travels to Fayetteville, Ark. for the NCAA South Central Regional Championships on Saturday, April 8. The meet is set to begin at 6 p.m. CT. The Orange and Blue are coming off two weeks of rest, last competing on Saturday, March 25 at the Big Ten Championship in East Lansing, Mich. Illinois placed seventh at the conference championships as they put up a team score of 192.500.
South Central Regional History
This is Illinois' third-straight and 19th overall trip to the NCAA Regional Championships. The Illini's best finish at a regional meet is fourth on several occasions, most recently in 1987. The Illini have never qualified for the national championships as a team.
At last year's South Central Regional in Lincoln, Neb., Illinois finished sixth with a team score of 193.850. 2004 saw the Illini place fifth at Regionals with a score of 195.400. Senior Ashley Williams and sophomore Cara Pomeroy became the first Illini in 17 years to advance to the NCAA Championships as individuals, with Williams competing in the all-around and Pomeroy on bars, after capturing the Regional title on the event with a perfect 10.0.
Joining the Illini in Fayetteville will be No. 3 Florida, No. 9 UCLA, No. 18 Arkansas, No. 42 Illinois-Chicago and No. 49 Southeast Missouri State. Along with the six squads, four individual gymnasts will join the teams in Arkansas. Cheryl Berezan (Illinois State), who qualified to compete all-around at Regionals, will rotate with Arkansas beginning on a bye before the floor exercise.
Illinois will be accompanied by three athletes from the South Central Regional who individually qualified for the championships. Event specialists include Meghan Koshman (Illinois State) on vault, Courtney Arno (Texas Woman's University) on uneven bars and beam, and Brisa Fuentes (Texas Woman's University) on floor exercise. The Illini are scheduled to start on bars, the same event they began on at this season's Big Ten Championships and at last year's South Central Regional Championships.
Two weeks ago at the conference championships, junior Cara Pomeroy and freshman Julie Crall were recognized by the Big Ten Conference as they were respectively named to the All-Conference First and Second Teams.
Earning her second-straight first-team accolade, Pomeroy is the third Illini to ever earn first-team honors in back-to-back seasons. The Ottawa, Ontario native is the first Illini to earn multiple first-team accolades since 1990, joining Denise Lamborn (1987, '88, '90) and Heather Singalwitch (1988, '90).
Receiving her first conference accolade, Crall has recorded two individual beam titles in her debut season. At the conference championships, the freshman tied Pomeroy for third overall on beam with a 9.825.
Five Illini Named To Academic All-Big Ten Team
Five UI women's gymnasts were recently named to the Big Ten Academic All-Conference team. Seniors Emily Earle (3.902, Kinesiology) and Katie Wild (3.867, Spanish), juniors Cara Pomeroy (3.699, Kinesiology) and Melissa Singer (3.788, Kinesiology) and sophomore Michelle McGrady (3.455, Accountancy) were all recognized for earning a varsity letter and maintaining at least a 3.0 grade point average.
In The Rankings
After enjoying top-25 status in the GymInfo rankings for most of 2006, Illinois has recently stumbled in the rankings. The Illini currently rank No. 30 on GymInfo's latest poll, released on Monday, March 27. Illinois' highest ranking this year was No. 16 on Jan. 9. The Orange and Blue's regional qualifying score has stayed consistent at 194.060 due to below average scores at the State of Illinois Classic (191.850, Mar. 18) and Big Ten Championships (192.500, March 25).
After an impressive start to her sophomore season, posting seven individual event titles, Michelle McGrady was sidelined for the remainder of the season four weeks ago with a stress fracture to one of her legs. Keeping McGrady company in the training room is junior Danye Botterman, who dislocated her foot three weeks ago at practice and will also miss the remainder of the season. Botterman won two event titles in her final meet before the injury against Michigan State on vault (9.750) and floor (9.825).
One of the most impressive facts about head coach Bob Starkell's 2006 squad is the number of freshmen contributing in this season's success. Just two weeks ago at the Big Ten Championships, four newcomers participated in 13 of 24 routines for the Orange and Blue. Marijka Botterman, Julie Crall and Kim Kruk each competed all-around for the Illini, while Lindsey Smith competed on vault.
Marijka Botterman - Botterman has competed all-around for the Illini in seven different meets this season. She has collected a total of three event titles (vault-2, bars-1) and has two all-around titles.
Julie Crall - A consistent performer on beam for the Illini, Crall has competed in the event in all but one meet this season while racking up two individual beam titles. Just recently named a second team All-Big Ten selection, Crall has stepped into an all-around role in the last three meets after two teammates were lost to injury.
Kim Kruk - Kruk has competed all-around for the Illini in ever meet this season except vs. Michigan State when she did not compete on bars. The freshman has recorded three all-around titles and three event titles this season, two on floor and one on bars.
Lindsey Smith - A Collinsville, Ill. native, Smith has competed on vault for the Orange and Blue every meet this season, posting a personal-best score of 9.775 twice.
Pomeroy Leading The Way
As expected, junior captain Cara Pomeroy has been the backbone of the Illini gymnastics squad all season long. The Ottawa, Ont. native, who is the only UI gymnast ever to record a perfect 10.0 (2004 South Central Regionals on bars), has recorded a total of 10 individual titles on the season and 31 in her career. Pomeroy, who has six meets with at least two top-three finishes, tied teammate Crall for third on bars with a score of 9.825 at the Big Ten Championships. She was a first team All-Big Ten selection for the second-straight year.
Tickets for the 2006 NCAA South Central Regional at Barnhill Arena are available at the Lady Razorback Ticket Office. A limited number of seats are available and must be ordered by telephone. To make telephone orders, call 479-575-7321 Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Orders can be placed by credit card only. For more info check www.ladybacks.com.
For more information on this weekend's regional championships, including live stats for Saturday's competition, check www.ladybacks.com
Assistant Sports Information Director Derek Neal will be traveling this weekend to Fayetteville, Ark. with Illini. For any information regarding the Illini and the 2006 South Central Regional Championships, Neal can be reached at (309) 241-0804.
The only remaining competition after this weekend's regional championships is the NCAA Championships on April 20-22. The championships will take place in Corvallis, Ore. on the campus of Oregon State University. The team prelims kickoff on Friday, April 20. The top-two teams from each regional championship along with each regions individual event winners and the top-two all-arounders not on qualifying teams will advance to the National Championships.