Women open season with fresh faces at Mixed Pairs

By Jessica Warchall

Tonight the women’s gymnastics team will take advantage of the opportunity to introduce its seven freshmen to the pressure of college competition.

The women and men’s teams will pair up to compete against each other at the annual Mixed Pairs exhibition at 7 in Huff Hall.

“This is a fun meet to get a little experience in and get rid of some nerves,” junior co-captain Cara Pomeroy said.

Head coach Bob Starkell said that nerves play a big part in competition, especially for the freshmen. Since half of the team’s gymnasts are freshmen, Starkell thinks this meet is important in order for them to experience what a home crowd is like. He said the meet is likely to draw large crowds, including friends and family, to create a comfortable atmosphere for the Illini.

“Friday is an opportunity to give a look to the fans and to help bring out the team,” Starkell said.

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This meet gets the team “geared up for the season,” senior co-captain Katie Wild said. She said the meet is exciting because it is a different format than any other meet of the season so “some of the girls will be doing more or less routines than they would normally.” The meet acts as more of a practice and sets up the atmosphere for the rest of the season, she said.

Assistant coach Kim Mazza thinks the meet is important because it sets up the competitive tone for the season. Mazza said the experience gained in Mixed Pairs will help the young team lose some nerves so they are better prepared to enter the season’s competition posting consistent scores.

“The meet should give us opportunity to work out kinks, and it gives us an opportunity to work out our competition,” Starkell said. “This is our attempt to show what we’ve been doing during preseason.”