Individuals shine in Big Ten Tourney

Individuals shine in Big Ten Tourney

By Jessica Warchall

No. 27 Illinois finished in seventh place at the Big Ten Championships on Saturday in East Lansing, Mich., with a team score of 192.500.

No. 21 Minnesota (195.150) came in first followed by the host team, Michigan State (194.975), and Penn State (194.925) finished third. The seven-time defending Big Ten Champion team Michigan (194.475) ended its streak as it placed fourth. Ohio State (193.525) and Iowa (193.425) finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

Head coach Bob Starkell said he is in some ways disappointed with the team score, but several individuals performed well. He said the meet was junior Melissa Singer’s best day as an Illini, and freshman Julie Crall was phenomenal.

“Julie Crall had a phenomenal meet in my mind,” Starkell said. “She learned a new vault last week and competed it at the meet and did extremely well.”

The Illini began the meet on bars where junior co-captain Cara Pomeroy achieved a 9.850 to finish fourth overall. Freshman Marijka Botterman scored a 9.625 followed by freshman Kim Kruk (9.650) and senior Emily Earle with a 9.600 to add to the team score of 48.275.

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“Pomeroy had her best routine of the year on bars,” Starkell said. “I couldn’t find any errors at all.”

After a decent showing on bars, the Illini moved to beam where three gymnasts fell. Illinois finished with its second lowest beam score of the season, a 47.550. Singer (9.650), Crall (9.825) and Pomeroy (9.825) tried to boost the Illini’s score with their solid routines. Crall and Pomeroy tied for third place on the event.

“As a team we struggled and had a few falls, and we weren’t able to come back from it,” Pomeroy said.

The Illini headed to floor where they hoped to regain their confidence, but the freshmen struggled as Botterman and Kruk both fell. Pomeroy began the event achieving a 9.700 followed by senior co-captain Katie Wild with a 9.725. Crall finished the event with a 9.800 to add to the team total of 48.125.

“I had one of the strongest meets I’ve had all season,” Crall said. “But as a team our minds weren’t fully set on the goal we wanted, and we just didn’t pull though.”

Illinois finished the meet on vault where it posted its highest event score of the meet, a 48.550. Singer and Earle scored 9.600 and 9.500, respectively. Freshmen Botterman (9.775), Crall (9.750), Lindsey Smith (9.725) and Kruk (9.700) pulled through to conclude the event.

Even though the team as a whole struggled, Starkell said he had more people on the podium at this meet than in the thirteen years he has been a coach.

Starkell said that this week he wants to eliminate the major mistakes – falls on routines – to perform well in the NCAA tournament.

“We’re going to figure things out to make sure we do our best at regionals and have no regrets to finish out the season,” Pomeroy said. “Hopefully we’ll put ourselves in a place to keep going on to nationals.”