Women looking for consistency

By Jessica Warchall

The women’s gymnastics team is looking for consistency as it continues its tough schedule at No. 7 Iowa State in Ames, Iowa tonight at 7. Illinois is coming off its first defeat at the season opener last Friday at No. 6 Florida. The teams finished the meet with a score of 195.90-190.80.

Both teams moved up in the national rankings after the meet. Florida is now the number one team in the nation, and the Illini are now No. 16 in the nation according to the Gyminfo Top-25 rankings.

The meet began shaky for the Illini as they posted team scores of 47.425 on bars and 46.625 on vault.

“After the first two events with uncharacteristic falls, all that the athletes worried about was not falling,” head coach Bob Starkell said. “They were not focusing on doing their best.”

The team began to pull through and post higher scores on its final two events – floor and beam. Starkell said beam is the most mentally tough event, but his athletes were able to stay on and made fewer mistakes.

Even though the Illini fell to Florida, the meet showed promise from freshman Julie Crall. She made her debut at Florida and put up scores of 9.800 and 9.725 on beam and floor, respectively. Her score on beam was good for second place. Starkell said Crall seemed to “fit right in the schedule of things” and was free from typical freshman errors.

“Going in I had some nerves, but I was confident and ready to compete at this level,” Crall said. “I wanted to show what I’ve been practicing so hard.”

Junior co-captain Cara Pomeroy also competed well last Friday. She posted the second best scores for the Illini with a 9.75 on bars and a 9.725 on beam.

“Cara’s performance was excellent,” Starkell said, “We expect that from her; she leads by example.

He said he is glad to face the most difficult teams early on in the season to show his young team what collegiate competition is all about.

“Iowa is not much easier than Florida,” Starkell said, “We are using this schedule to our advantage to compete against the best first.”

The team is looking at the first meet as a learning experience. Starkell believes his team did not do as well as it wanted because many of the freshmen were intimidated because it was their first meet.

“Our ultimate goal is to eliminate large mistakes this weekend,” Starkell said.

Pomeroy said the team was determined to make practices go well during the week in order to keep focus and remain motivated. She said after the rough start last weekend, many of the team members began to loose focus.

“We will be more consistent and confident than last weekend because we are a talented team and we know what we can do,” Pomeroy said.

Crall also believes she and the other freshmen will be much more confident competing against Iowa State with a meet under their belts.

The layout of tonight’s meet will be nearly the same as the meet against Florida last weekend. The team’s first event will again be the uneven bars. Starkell sees this as a second chance for his team – a second chance to start stronger on this rough event. He said a stronger start will help the team have more confidence in what they are capable of doing to push this meet in the direction it wants it to.

After tonight’s meet the Illini return home from their stint on the road. They will prepare to face No. 19 Maryland at home in their home opener Jan. 21 at Huff Hall.