Nov. 8, 2006
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois women's gymnastics team announced today the addition of two gymnasts to the squad for the 2007-08 season. Allison Buckley (Conant High School, Schaumburg, Ill.) and Melissa Fernandez (Eudora High School, Eudora, Kan.) have each signed national letters of intent with the Fighting Illini.
Head coach Bob Starkell expressed excitement at the abilities that each young athlete will bring to the team.
"We are extremely excited about the two young ladies that will be joining our Illini family. They both carry qualities and strengths that will help our program reach our goals both nationally and in the Big Ten Conference."
Allison Buckley (Conant High School, Schaumburg, Ill./Gymkhana)
Notes: Qualified for 2006 Level 10 Nationals, placing 10th on vault, seventh on beam and 29th in the all-around in the Sr. C group...2006 Level 10 Region 5 Floor Champion ...2006 High School team finished first at state, and was the first gymnast to win five individual events, plus the team title at Illinois High School State Championships....Currently holds individual school records on vault, bars, beam, floor and all-around...Coached by mother Jackie Buckley as well as John Condon, Vern Gumila, Angela Marcu and Michelle Strachn...Club team is Gymkhana Gymnastics...Parents are Mike and Jackie Buckley... Member of the National Honor Society...Says she chose Illinois because "I felt the most comfortable there. I loved the area, the team, and the school. It has my major and I can see myself being at Illinois."
Coach Starkell on Allison
"Allison has the power and skills to jump right into the Big Ten Conference and experience success. She is competitive by nature and has an explosive style in all her routines. Over the past three years, Allison has shown great results in high school and as a coaching staff we believe she has the potential to get better. Allison comes from a family surrounded by gymnastics, so she understands the sport well."
Melissa Fernandez (Eudora High School, Eudora, Kan./KGDC)
Notes: Qualified for 2006 Level 10 Nationals where she placed second on balance beam, seventh on floor, and 10th in the all-around in the Sr. B group...Champion on beam, third on vault and fifth on floor at 2006 Region 3 Championships...2006 Kansas State Champion on vault, beam, and floor... As a Level 9 in 2005, she placed second in the all-around at the Level 9 Western Nationals...Coached by Anne Heffernon and James Sampel...Club team is KGDC...Parents are Tami and Steve Klinedinst...Member of the high honor roll in high school, currently with a 4.0 GPA...Active in Student Council throughout high school...Named Who's Who in American High School Academics...Says she chose Illinois because "I loved everything about it. The academics are great. The Illinois atmosphere is amazing and it is not too far away from home. The best part, though, is the team and coaches. I felt comfortable and at home with everyone."
Coach Starkell on Melissa
"Over the past two years, Melissa has developed into one of the country's top all-arounders. In her first year of Level 10, she placed 10th nationally in her age group. After watching her compete, it was obvious that she carries the attributes and characteristics that we are looking for in a college gymnast. Her style and finesse will provide her with the capability to excel in the NCAA."