Strong floor showing fuels win

By Jessica Warchall

For the second week in a row, the women’s gymnastic team vaulted past its competition. Illinois (3-2) beat both Northern Illinois and Central Michigan by a score of 192.825-192.250-190.450 Sunday in DeKalb, Ill.

The Illini began the meet on beam for the first time this season. The team posted a score of 48.125 for the event. Junior co-captain Cara Pomeroy landed her opening first-place finish of the meet scoring a 9.850. Freshman Julie Crall tied her season high score and came in fourth-place for the event with a 9.800.

“All-in-all (beam) looked better than what we’ve been doing in a competitive environment,” Starkell said.

In addition to finishing strong on beam, the Illini put up high scores on vault and floor exercise. This follows the Illini’s season best finish on vault last weekend.

“On vault, we came off of last weekend’s performance,” Starkell said. “We had good landings, good body positions, so we’re really happy there.”

The team scored a 48.850 on vault. Sophomore Michelle McGrady put up a 9.825 on vault, good enough for first place for the second weekend in a row; junior Danye Botterman scored a 9.825. Freshmen Lindsey Smith (9.775), Marijka Botterman (9.725) and Kim Kruk (9.700) also contributed to the team score.

“Our most impressive event – compared to the other three weekends – was floor exercises,” Starkell said. “The largest improvement was our competitiveness-huge step forward.”

The Illini saw consistency in the form of McGrady. Starkell said she had outstanding back-to-back weekends. McGrady had another first place finish on floor with a 9.850-a career high. Her previous career high (9.825) was set last weekend at home against Maryland. Senior co-captain Katie Wild added to the team score of 48.975 on floor tying for second place with a 9.800.

Wild attributes the strong performance on floor to two days of intense “pressure situation” practice on floor. This intentional pressure during practice is akin to the feelings during weekend competition, Starkell said.

“Practice is going well so now we have to figure out how we can feel confident in the competitive situations to make it feel like (meets) are like practice,” Starkell said.

Even though the Illini put on a winning show, head coach Bob Starkell still saw where improvements have to be made.

“We couldn’t seem to have the confidence (on bars),” Starkell said. “(The team) performed not to lose rather than perform to win. They got conservative; I don’t expect this to be a recurring thing. Hopefully we got it out of our system early.”

Pomeroy was the bright spot in this event; she scored a 9.775, her second first-place finish of the meet, which boosted the team score of 46.975 on bars.

Pomeroy said the Illini will continue to focus on consistency and confidence in practice this week as they prepare to face interstate rivals Illinois State University at home Feb. 4.

“Technically we are where we are supposed to be right now,” Starkell said, “but I think that next weekend we need to start making it a little bit stronger.”