Women lose to Missouri

By Majesh Abraham

Women’s gymnastics lost a closely-contested meet on the road against Missouri Saturday night. The Tigers beat the Illini with a score of 196.225 to the Illini’s 193.775.

“In general we did a good job on three events and we slipped up on one event, and we slipped up enough that it hurt us on the overall score,” said head coach Bob Starkell.

The event that hurt the Illini was vault, which has been a weak point for the Illini all year long.

“We started out really well on bars – it was the highest team score on bars all season – and then we moved to vault where we knew Missouri would have a slight advantage, but they got a lead on us after vault that was enough to win the meet,” Starkell said.

The Illini’s strong performance on bars was highlighted by sophomore Cara Pomeroy’s season-high score of 9.900, which was good enough to capture second place individually.

“She had a good weekend on bars and beam. She’s performing at a high level, and I think getting more confidence in her ability,” Starkell said. “It started as a freshman last year, where she didn’t look like a freshman at all, but as a seasoned college veteran.”

Senior Laura Newcomb continued her strong run by taking second place in the all-around with a score of 38.650. Junior Katie Wild and sophomore Danye Botterman tied for the best scores on floor for the Illini at 9.775. Wild also posted the best score for the Illini on beam with a score of 9.825. Senior Ashley Williams had the highest score on the vault for the Illini with a score of 9.675.

This loss continues a stretch in which the Illini have performed well but have been unable to pull off the victory in close meets and have slipped to 9-4 on the season.

“Missouri was due; they were struggling for a long time, and we were at the wrong place at the wrong time because they had the best meet of the entire season,” Starkell said.

The Illini did see the return of freshman Michelle McGrady, who was expected to be a starter for vault in the beginning of the season, when she broke her foot and was forced to sit out.

“She started vaulting this week, and she picked it up like she hadn’t been on a break,” Starkell said. “But it was her first ever college meet and it was away from home, so she might have been too excited or too rushed to perform at her best level like we know she can.”

The team is trying not to dwell on the tough losses.

“Its been tough because we’ve come so close so many times, and a couple of mistakes have thrown us off and it’s frustrating,” Pomeroy said. “We’re just going to come back to the gym and make sure we work really hard this week and focus on the small things.”

The team continues its three-week stretch on the road with a big match up against Big Ten rival Michigan State next week in East Lansing, Mich.

“For the first half of the season we try to not to focus on wins and losses,” Starkell said. “It’s all about getting ready for the post-season, and losses do affect us a little, but as long you show improvement week by week, which we have been doing, we’ll be fine come March.”