Big Ten rivals prepare for ultimate showdown

By Jessica Warchall

No. 21 Illinois will face Big Ten rival No. 25 Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday. The Illini will try to top its season-high 195.300 it posted last Saturday at UIC.

“This Ohio State meet is important to us because it’s against a Big Ten team,” head coach Bob Starkell said. “Like any other sport it’s hard to go into Columbus and bring back a win from the Buckeyes – it’ll be a challenge.”

Starkell hopes to make a good showing in Ohio because the Big Ten competition is only three weeks away. The coaching staff wants to use this meet to measure the team’s talent against another Big Ten team.

“When it comes down to the Big Ten competition we want to be in the top three,” freshman Kim Kruk said.

She said the rankings are neck-and-neck right now for the top three places in the Big Ten. Kruk thinks this meet will build the team’s confidence to get a Big Ten win.

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The Illini hope to have the same confidence and energy in Ohio as they did last weekend at UIC, Starkell said. Kruk said the team will build on last weekend’s performance and try to fix its one shaky event, bars, in Ohio.

Starkell said last weekend the Illini fell short on bars because they did not have enough time in practice to work on perfecting their routines. Illinois will start on bars in Ohio as it did at UIC, and Starkell sees this as an opportunity to come out crisper and show what it has been working on in practice. Otherwise, he does not want his team to do anything differently.

“We need to maintain our energy level and not take it for granted that we did well last weekend so we’ll do well again this weekend,” junior co-captain Cara Pomeroy said. “We have to focus on everything that makes our routines work.”

Pomeroy said the team will focus on themselves this weekend and not worry about the other team.

“I think if we do our job, we’re going to be very competitive and we have the potential to win,” Starkell said.

Pomeroy said this week in practice the Illini will work on bringing energy and excitement to the gym. She hopes this will carry over to Saturday’s meet so the team can keep building on its high scoring weekend performances.

As Illinois’ regular season is coming to a close and it begins to look toward to the Big Ten championships, Starkell has his team focusing on minor details in routines leading to perfection.

“For us now it’s not doing anything different in our routines, it’s just re-affirming what we can do each weekend.” Starkell said. “We are making sure they don’t get comfortable with anything so once they get into Columbus they’re not taking anything for granted.”