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Women’s gymnastics ends with multiple individual and season titles

Lizzy+LeDuc+competes+on+beam+against+Michigan+State+in+Huff+Hall+on+February+17.
Lizzy LeDuc competes on beam against Michigan State in Huff Hall on February 17.

Lizzy LeDuc competes on beam against Michigan State in Huff Hall on February 17.

The Daily Illini File Photo

The Daily Illini File Photo

Lizzy LeDuc competes on beam against Michigan State in Huff Hall on February 17.

Danielle Williams, Staff writer

With six team wins and 30 individual titles under its belt, the Illinois women’s gymnastics team ended its season last weekend at the NCAA Regionals in Champaign.

The team started the year off with the preseason Orange and Blue Exhibition.

“The 2017 season is one that had so much to be proud of,” former head coach Kim Landrus said. “A 17-5-1 record with several memorable moments including a second place finish at the Big Ten championships signifies how the team’s grit and determination paid off on the competition floor.”

The much-anticipated season officially started in Columbia, Missouri, with a meet against Missouri and Ball State.

The Illini came in second, but their season picked up from there.

Illinois’ first home meet was also its first with some Big Ten competition. It competed against Rutgers, Eastern Michigan and UIC. The team posted a 195.900 with the help of sophomore Lizzy LeDuc’s four individual event titles.

Junior Bridget Hodan led the Illini at Michigan on Jan. 22, but the team placed second with a 195.300.

Illinois hosted Penn State for its annual Pink Meet in support of breast cancer awareness on Jan. 29, posting a 195.625 to defeat the Nittany Lions.

Illinois struggled at Iowa on Feb. 11, where it placed second out of three teams.

Michigan State was not a match for the Illini, as they defeated the Spartans by 2.525 points at their final regular season home meet. The team notched the third highest team beam score in Illinois history.

Illinois tied for first out of four teams with Kentucky at the Kentucky Invite.

At Denver, the Illini placed second, and at the Illinois Classic they took first with a score of 196.150.

At the Big Five meet in Champaign on March 11, Illinois earned second place with a score of 196.450. The Illini hit the program’s second-highest team floor in program history, a 49.450.

Redshirt senior Mary Jane Horth and LeDuc earned first-team All-Big Ten honors, while sophomore Brielle Nguyen and Bridget Hodan were awarded second-team All-Big Ten honors.

The team’s final score at the Big Ten Championships, 196.450, was a season-high and tied for the fifth-highest team score in program history.

Horth and LeDuc secured the bars and beam titles, respectively. These two individual championship wins were the most for an Illinois team since 2009.

“Hosting NCAA Regionals at the State Farm Center and being tied with Oregon State going into the final rotation proved that this team gave it everything they had,” Landrus said.

Erin Buchanan, Becca Cuppy, Jordyn Givens, Sarah Lyons, Haylee Roe, Horth, LeDuc and Hodan all received Academic All-Big Ten honors this season.

At the NCAA Champaign Regional, Leduc earned fourth place on beam and Horth took fifth on the uneven bars.

Although Landrus will be head coach of the North Carolina State gymnastics team next year, she said that coaching this team has been a great experience.

“They had so much passion and came together as a team, which allowed them to compete their best gymnastics at the end of the season,” Landrus said. “From a coach’s perspective, that’s exactly what you want.”

dw3@dailyillini.com

@daniijaae

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