Illini show promise in loss to Cyclones

By Jessica Warchall

The women’s gymnastics team showed improvement Friday night, but not enough to come home from Iowa with a win. For the second straight week the Illini failed to come out victorious as they could not overcome No. 7 Iowa State in Ames, Iowa. The final score was 194.100-191.650. Even though the Illini did not finish on top, the team showed key improvements from its meet against Florida the previous weekend.

“We achieved some of our goals that we were looking forward to doing,” head coach Bob Starkell said. “Overall we made an improvement from last week, and now we can start working on cleaning things up and being really sharp.”

Starkell said the team started off much better than it did against Florida. Illinois started the meet on bars as it did at Florida, but this time the team was confident and had an improved finish; the Illini scored 48.075 on bars. Junior co-captain Cara Pomeroy had the strongest performance for the team scoring a 9.750 and finishing in second place overall.

“Cara always has some of the strongest performances,” Starkell said.

Freshman Marijka Botterman showed improvement on bars from the previous week and scored a 9.625. Starkell also said freshman Kim Kruk improved all-around.

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“Kim Kruk and Marijka Botterman had a rough time last week,” Starkell said, “This time they were able to settle down and focus on what they knew they could do, and they took away all of their major mistakes.”

This week Starkell said the Illini paid attention to detail on vault routines and were able to perform with confidence. The team score for vault was 48.275, which was an improvement upon the previous week where the Illini made uncharacteristic mistakes.

After a strong show on vault, the Illini moved to floor, which proved to be a tough event. Kruk recorded the highest score for the Illini with a 9.625 and attributed the low team score to a loss of focus; the Illini achieved a team score of only 46.775 on floor.

“We had a rough day on floor,” Starkell said, “(The team) was so concerned about hitting the first two events so they were too complacent going on to floor, but they picked up their intensity level when they went to beam and competed extremely well.”

Pomeroy and freshman Julie Crall came through on beam to help the Illini finish strong. Pomeroy recorded the second-best score for the Illini with a 9.750. For the second week in a row, Crall landed second place on beam with a score of 9.800.

“We hit three out of our four events,” Crall said, “It shows that we are improving and going in the direction we want to go.”

Starkell said “the one big thing” his team was able to do was get motivated after coming off last week’s unexpected performance at Florida. He said his team is now able to understand that they can get through the rough events and pick up tenths of points by cleaning up routines and not worrying about falling.

Starkell and his team will continue to work out the little imperfections in its routines during this week’s practices as the Illini prepare to host their home opener at Huff Hall on Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. vs. Maryland.