Illini ready for pressure

Illini ready for pressure

By Jessica Warchall

Coming off its first win of the season at home last weekend after two losses away, the women’s gymnastics team will be back on the road this Sunday as it competes against Northern Illinois and Central Michigan in DeKalb at 2 p.m.

Head coach Bob Starkell has been working with his team this week to fix the mistakes of last weekend’s meet.

“There’s been one event that’s given us issues each weekend,” Starkell said. “The one thing that was disappointing (last weekend) was that we kind of fell through on beam, which was really good the first two weekends.”

In order to try to correct the mistakes made on beam, the team has been practicing pressure situations, Starkell said. During its “team beam” exercise, four gymnasts must hit two routines in a row without falling; they keep doing this until all four hit two routines in a row, he said.

“I think by focusing more on pressure situations we can do what we do in practice in the meet situation when there is pressure,” senior co-captain Katie Wild said.

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Other mistakes the Illini endured last weekend were on floor. Starkell attributed these mistakes to making quick lineup changes because of two injured Illini. Freshman Julie Crall and junior Danye Botterman were pulled from the event last weekend. They are competing in only one event each this weekend, beam and bars, respectively.

“I’m trying to keep my endurance up so that when my ankle is completely better I can jump back into all of the routines and get back in the lineup,” Crall said.

Since it is so early in the season, both gymnasts will not compete on floor for at least another week as to not take any chances with their recoveries, Starkell said.

“For us to fare well, especially on beam, it’s great to have Julie on the event,” Starkell said. “Our next step is to try to get her on bars, and if we can get her on the floor she will feel a little more comfortable about being consistent.”

In practice earlier this week, the team looked at video of last weekend’s meet to see where they could pick up tenths of points, junior co-captain Cara Pomeroy said. She said if the gymnasts correct the small mistakes they saw from last weekend, they will add a full two points to the team score.

“Every week our goal is to try to make it very difficult for the judges,” Starkell said. “They have to dig deep to try to find a deduction.”

This week Starkell has been emphasizing staying focused on the skills each gymnast has in order to hit a routine and not worry about falling or making mistakes.

“As a coaching staff we’re trying to make sure (the gymnasts) feel confident in what they’re doing,” Starkell said. “We reassure them that the gymnastics they’re doing looks really good, and they’re going to be ready.”