Women’s gymnastics heads to Seattle, Wa., for quadrangular meet

By Emily Bayci

Last weekend, the No. 14 Illinois women’s gymnastics team set a school-record score of 196.7 against Ohio State at Huff Hall.

But the Illini won’t have the comforts of home this weekend when they travel to the West Coast for the first time this season.

After competing in the Midwest all season, Illinois heads to Seattle, Wash., for a quadrangular meet against No. 9 Oregon State, No. 24 Washington and Eastern Michigan.

“This definitely is going to be a different meet for us,” head coach Bob Starkell said.

“We really don’t know what to expect because it’s been a while since we’ve faced any of these teams. We’ve never faced Eastern Michigan, it’s been two years since we’ve seen Oregon (State) and last year we lost to Washington.

“It’s also going to be weird traveling to another time zone. We’ll be tumbling at 9 at night. I’ll be lucky to still be awake by the time we’re done. Heck, the girls are usually in bed by 9 o’clock,” Starkell joked.

Another change for the Illini will be in the rotation order.

Illinois will start with floor and end with the beam, opposite of the normal order. Starkell said the change will add a lot of mental pressure, which is something the team has been focusing on in practice.

“The important thing for this weekend is focusing on our motivation and confidence because we want to look strong in front of this new competition,” senior Marijka Botterman said.

Lately, Illinois has been competing at its peak and now is hoping to correct everyone’s individual mistakes, Starkell said.

“We don’t have any defense so all that we can focus on is our offense,” he said.

Coming off a record-breaking meet last weekend, junior Nicole Cowart hopes this weekend’s competition proves that the Illini can stay consistent.

“Everybody is on top of their game right now,” Cowart said.

“Now we have just been working on our focus because when we are presented with obstacles we need to stay confident. If we are there for one another then we all succeed.”