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Illinois women’s gymnastics look for victory at State Farm Center

Erin+Buchanan+preforms+her+floor+exercise+routine+during+the+meet+against+Michigan+at+Huff+Hall+on+Friday.+The+Illini+lost+195.800-195.575.
Erin Buchanan preforms her floor exercise routine during the meet against Michigan at Huff Hall on Friday. The Illini lost 195.800-195.575.

Erin Buchanan preforms her floor exercise routine during the meet against Michigan at Huff Hall on Friday. The Illini lost 195.800-195.575.

Erin Buchanan preforms her floor exercise routine during the meet against Michigan at Huff Hall on Friday. The Illini lost 195.800-195.575.

Danielle Williams, Staff writer

The Illinois women’s gymnastics team will host the Big Five Meet at State Farm Center this weekend.

The Illini took fourth at the same meet last year with a 195.95, and now-senior Erin Buchanan collected two event titles on vault and floor.

This year the Illini are looking to redeem themselves against their Big Ten competition.

Head coach Kim Landrus says that the team is more than ready to carry the momentum that they’ve had throughout the season over to the meet this weekend.

Every team competing, except for Michigan State, has not competed against Illinois all season.

“We talked in the beginning of practice about how the season really starts now,” Buchanan said. “It’s time to get serious but it’s going to be fun.”

The last time Illinois competed against Michigan State, the Illini defeated the team with a season-high 196.55. The team posted season high events on bars, floor and beam.

There were also a few individual titles that were earned titles — Rae Balthazor secured her first event title on bars and Bridget Hodan received the beam title. Lizzy LeDuc nailed two event titles on vault and the floor exercise.

LeDuc has 17 individual titles this season.

With her years of experience with the Big Five meet, Buchanan knows the work that has to be put in.

“The season has had it’s ups and downs but it’s not anything that we haven’t taken positively,” Buchanan said. “Our team has been very good at adapting to all sorts of changes. We’ve grown accustomed to line up changes here and there very well. We’re ready to go into postseason and wrap it up the best way we can.”

The Illini have won six meets and placed second at only four this season.

Throughout the season each event has had it’s own hardships, and vault has proven the most difficult.

“It’s been a lot of hard work,” Buchanan said. “We come in the gym everyday ready to make a change because we know we are that “49 team” on vault. It’s just a matter of having trust in ourselves and in each other.”

At the beginning of the season the gymnasts struggled getting the score they want on this event. It wasn’t until the Kentucky meet at the end of February that the Illini overcame that obstacle.

With the lineups in place and their skills conditioned, the Illini hope that what they do in practice pays off in not only the Big Fives but also the rest of the postseason.

“Five teams can potentially be overwhelming,”Buchanan said. “The most important thing for us this weekend will be staying together. By doing that we can ultimately achieve our goals of getting the scores that we want and know we can get.”

@daniijaae

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