Women look to improve, prepare to face Northern

By Jessica Warchall

Last weekend, the women’s gymnastics team triumphed over Northern Illinois and Central Michigan on the road in Dekalb, Ill. This weekend Illinois hopes to have a repeat performance as it faces Illinois State at home. The Illini (3-2) will face the Redbirds (3-3) at Huff Hall on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Even though the team came out on top last weekend, head coach Bob Starkell saw where it had difficulty and aimed to fix the individuals’ setbacks in practice this week.

“We’re just going to try to improve from our last week during this weekend’s competition, and if we do well, I have a feeling we’ll stay on top,” Starkell said.

The team has been focusing on imagining each practice as if it were a meet. This helps instill confidence and concentration during the actual meet, junior co-captain Cara Pomeroy said. She said being in pressure situations in practices allows the team to transfer what it accomplishes in practice to competition.

“In your mind you pretend that you’re at the competition,” Pomeroy said. “You visualize your surroundings and do everything you would do at the competition.”

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This week in practice the Illini were under pressure when they worked on their bar and floor routines. Starkell said floor went well for his team last week, and they took that for granted during practice this week; the team was having some difficulty hitting all of the routines on floor.

Starkell said having freshman Julie Crall back in the floor lineup will help the team post high scores. Crall is slowly easing herself back onto floor after injuring her ankle three weeks ago at Iowa State. She will compete on beam this weekend and possibly bars exhibition to gradually get back in the lineup.

“This week we’re really emphasizing hitting our bars,” Crall said, “and being more confident going into competition so that we have a better bar lineup.”

Junior Danye Botterman said the Illini “haven’t really had a meet yet.” She said the pressure put on the team in practice will help those who do not yet have the mindset to compete. Botterman is already looking toward regionals and hopes the Illini will “have a meet” this weekend to increase their chances of securing a slot at regionals.

“We want to hit 24 for 24 (routines),” Botterman said. “That’s our major goal.”

Another goal for Starkell is to continue making it difficult for the judges to knock points off the routines. He said as the season progresses he notices what the judges want to see in routines and what they can do without – a major reason why he may tweak the fine details in routines as the season goes on.

“We’re trying to be consistent and we’re trying to be perfect,” Starkell said. “We don’t have any defense – we can’t do anything else against (the other team) – we have to do what we are capable of ourselves.”