Women’s gymnastics finishes in disappointing 6th place at Big Ten Championships

No. 13 Illinois struggled Saturday at the Big Ten Championships, finishing in a disappointing sixth place with a score of 195.025. No. 9 Michigan claimed the top spot, its fourth in a row and 17th in the last 19 years, with a score of 196.900.

Preseason favorite No. 17 Penn State finished second with 196.525. Iowa, No. 25 Michigan State, and Minnesota rounded out the top five, respectively, followed by Illinois and host Ohio State.

As a team, the Fighting Illini did not take a single event; however, the Illini posted solid routines on the beam, with a score of 49.100; the vault, scoring a 48.925; and the floor, with a score of 48.850. The team struggled on the bars, though, tallying a 48.150 — well below its season average.

Before the meet, four Illini were honored with All-Big Ten selections. Juniors Allison Buckley and Melissa Fernandez and senior Sarah Schmidt garnered first-team honors, while senior Nicole Cowart earned Second Team All-Big Ten.

Illinois head coach Bob Starkell shared Big Ten Coach of the Year honors with Michigan’s Bev Plocki.

The honor is the second first-team selection and third overall all-conference selection for Buckley, who earned a first-team nod her freshman year.

Fernandez and Schmidt garnered First Team All-Big Ten selections for the first time in their careers. Schmidt earned a second-team selection last season.

Cowart earned her second straight second-team selection to add on to her First Team All-Big Ten nod in 2007.