Freshmen lead the way to victory in weekend win

By Jessica Warchall

Head coach Bob Starkell said his team came off of its best meet of the season on Saturday. The Illini doused the UIC Flames as they came away with their season-high score 195.300-190.775.

“It was a pretty rewarding weekend for us,” Starkell said. “It was more rewarding because we were away from home at Chicago, and we really haven’t had that great of a meet there in a while.”

Junior co-captain Cara Pomeroy said the team was excited to face UIC knowing it is a rival who they fell to last year, so they wanted to put on a great performance. The Illini hit 24-for-24 routines, covering any minor mistakes well and not doing anything drastically wrong, Starkell said.

Freshmen Marijka Botterman and Kim Kruk led the way last weekend, each grabbing two first-place finishes. Starkell said the freshmen are now picking it up after struggling in the beginning of the season.

The Illini began on bars, their only shaky event of the night. Senior Emily Earle, sophomore Krystal Melcarek, and Botterman and Kruk all achieved a 9.725 for a four-way tie for first. The team finished with a 49.575 on the event.

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Botterman continued her success on vault as she posted a personal-best 9.875 for first place. Sophomore Michelle McGrady finished in second place with a 9.800. The Illini achieved a team total of 48.825.

“The biggest improvement for freshmen was Marijka Botterman,” Starkell said. “Both Marijka and Kim Kruk probably made the most drastic point changes at the end of the meet from previous weekends.”

The Illini earned a second team total of 48.825 on floor. Kruk came in first with a 9.825. McGrady and freshman Julie Crall each scored a 9.775, tying for second place.

Illinois finished the meet on beam. Pomeroy led the Illini to a team total of 49.075 on beam and tied her personal-best 9.900 for first place. Crall and Botterman came in second and third scoring 9.875 and 9.825, respectively.

“The last event can either make or break you,” Pomeroy said, “but (beam) was our best event of the night and everyone had their best performance.”

Kruk attributes the team’s strong showing on Saturday to being more relaxed and confident than it had been in past meets. Pomeroy thinks the team is realizing its potential and is trying to build off of its good performances each week.

“It’s a big boost for us coming from Chicago – for us the win is good timing,” Starkell said. “In the first half of the season we weren’t sure if we were expecting too much from the freshmen, but in some ways the freshmen are trying to prove us wrong and saying we can do this – we’re going to get better.”