Illinois hosted an NCAA Regional for the first time in school history, where junior Alina Weinstein became the second regional all-around champion in program history.
May 3, 2012
#18 Final National Ranking
NCAA National Individual Qualifier
NCAA Regional Beam & All-Around Champion
Big Ten Beam Champion
3rd place at NCAA Champaign Regional
2nd in Session, 5th overall at Big Tens
NCAA National Championships Qualifier: For the fifth year in a row, Illinois was represented at the NCAA National Championships, as junior Alina Weinstein competed at nationals to wrap up the year for the Illini, who finished tied for 18th in the nation. Weinstein was the 10th individual NCAA National qualifier in program history.
Second-Ever NCAA Regional All-Around Champion: Junior Alina Weinstein advanced to the national meet by winning the all-around at the NCAA Champaign Regional with a career-high 39.450, making her just the second all-around regional champion in school history. She also tied for first on beam at the regional, becoming just the second Illini ever to win multiple regional titles, as she shares that honor with Nancy Thies, who won a combined seven crowns from 1976-77.
First Regional Host in School History: Illinois, which hosted an NCAA Regional at the Assembly Hall for the first time in school history, placed third at the meet, marking its fifth-straight top-three regional finish. The Illini scored a 195.725 and placed behind No. 2 Oklahoma (197.025) and No. 11 Stanford (196.675).
Big Ten Beam Champion: In her final conference meet, senior Kelsey Joannides won her second career Big Ten title, tying for first on beam with a 9.900. Joannides, who won the Big Ten title on vault as a freshman, earned the 13th individual conference crown in school history and became the first two-time Big Ten champion at Illinois since the championships were officially recognized by the Big Ten in 1982-83.
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.
Weinstein Wraps Up Illini Season at Nationals
During the first semifinal session at the Gwinnett Center, junior Alina Weinstein competed as an individual all-arounder at the NCAA Championships to wrap up the 2012 season for the Illinois women's gymnastics team. The Plainsboro, N.J., native closed out the competition strong with three consecutive 9.85s and finished in the top 14 on vault, beam and floor. Weinstein rotated with fellow Big Ten team Nebraska and began the meet on uneven bars. She executed her routine but fell on her dismount and scored a 9.000. The junior bounced back immediately during the next rotation, tallying a 9.850 on beam to tie for 12th. After sitting out on a bye, she hit her floor routine and tied for 11th before finishing off the meet by tying for 14th on vault with a 9.850 on each. She missed earning second-team All-America honors on floor for the second-straight year by just .025.
Illini Place Third at NCAA Champaign Regional
Junior Alina Weinstein earned a trip to the NCAA Championships after winning the all-around title at the NCAA Champaign Regional with a career-high score of 39.450. The Plainsboro, N.J., native led No. 22 Illinois to a third-place finish with a total of 195.725, as the Illini finished behind No. 2 Oklahoma (197.025) and No. 11 Stanford (196.675) to come up one spot short of advancing to nationals for the second-straight year. Illinois, which hosted its first-ever regional at the Assembly Hall, placed in the top three at the regional meet for the fifth year in a row after never finishing above fourth before 2008. For the other three teams at the competition, No. 14 Denver (194.875) came in fourth followed by No. 24 Kentucky (194.750) and UIC (194.150). Weinstein, who also tied for first on beam with a career-high 9.900, became just the second Illini to win multiple regional titles, sharing that honor with Nancy Thies, who won a combined seven crowns from 1976-77. She was also just the second regional all-around champion from Illinois along with Thies and the fourth individual event champion in program history, joining Thies, Allison Buckley (2009 & 2010) and Cara Pomeroy (2004) with that distinction. Weinstein hit all four routines on vault (9.850), bars (9.825), beam (9.900) and floor (9.875) to equal the fifth-best all-around score in school history of 39.450.
Joannides Shines at Big Tens; Illini Finish Fifth
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.
Two Top-25 All-Arounders
Senior Kelsey Joannides and junior Alina Weinstein ranked among the Top 25 all-arounders in the nation during the 2011-12 season. Joannides, who ended the season ranked 20th (39.330), won five AA titles, including a 39.350 at Arizona State, a 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 sits just outside the top 10 in school history, and recorded 10 scores over 39. Junior Alina Weinstein, who finished the year tied for 24th (39.290), tallied nine scores over 39 in the all-around, which included two of the top-10 scores in school history with a career-high 39.450 (No. 5) at the NCAA Champaign Regional and a 39.425 (No. 8) at the State of Illinois Classic. Weinstein became just the second regional all-around champion in school history, came in sixth in the all-around at the Big Ten Championships with a 39.325, and matched Joannides for the team lead with five AA titles. Sophomore Amber See, who 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 wrapped up the year tied for 22nd in the nation on floor with an RQS of 9.885, won the event crown six times during the year, 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 placed fourth at the NCAA Regional with a 9.875 and did not finish outside the top four during the regular season. In total, she hit all 13 routines and notched a score of 9.850 or higher at 11 meets.
Illini in the Rankings
The Fighting Illini ended the year tied for 18th in the GymInfo rankings with a national qualifying score (NQS) of 391.420, which marks the seventh consecutive season that the Illini finished in the top 25. The Illini earned a preseason ranking of No. 15 and reached as high as No. 14 following their second week of competition. Illinois recorded its highest final ranking last season at No. 11 and has been ranked for 35 straight weeks over the past three years.
At the end of the regular season, the Orange and Blue 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 was tied for seventh on beam (9.895) and 20th in the all-around (39.330), while sophomore Amber See was tied for 22nd on floor (9.885). Junior Alina Weinstein also was a top-25 all-arounder, as she finished tied for 24th (39.290).
Illinois scored over a 195 in 10 of 13 meets in 2012, which tied for the second-most number of times they have eclipsed that mark in program history. 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. In 2011, the Illini notched a school-record 11 scores of 195 or higher in 14 competitions.
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 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 totaled 51 individual titles during the 2012 season, including a Big Ten title on beam by senior Kelsey Joannides and regional titles on beam and in the all-around by junior Alina Weinstein. 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, 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.
For the season, Joannides, who won the fifth Big Ten beam title in program history, led the team with 19 victories, which tied for the fourth-most in school history, followed by Weinstein with 14, which included becoming just the second Illini to win two regional titles, and See with 11. Joannides' 33 career titles rank as the sixth-most on the UI all-time list.
Illini Earn Seven Academic All-Big Ten Selections
Seven Illini from the women's gymnastics squad were named to the Academic All-Big Ten team. To be eligible for Academic All-Big Ten selection, student-athletes must be letterwinners who are in at least their second academic year at their institution and carry a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.
The Illini honored were seniors Kelsey Joannides (business) and Hannah Welker (broadcast journalism), juniors Elise Gill (industrial engineering), Jaclyn Kantecki (psychology), and Alina Weinstein (communications), and sophomores Sarah Fiedler (business) and Amber See (news-editorial journalism).
New Year, New Look in 2012
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 needed to replace 10 routines from the 2011 season, which was the best in school history. Despite the loss of those seniors, the Illini returned 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 last summer, Landrus remained 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 served as the vault and floor coach for the Illini. Volunteer assistant coach Jess Bartgis helped 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 welcomed six newcomers to the squad.
Follow the Illini
Keep up with all the latest news, updates and videos from the women's gymnastics team on the internet.