Women’s gymnastics returns home for dual meet with Ohio State

The No. 19 Illinois women’s gymnastics team will return to Huff Hall for the first time in two weeks Saturday looking to clinch its second win in the Big Ten. The Illini (1-1-1) will compete against No. 11 Ohio State (3-1).

Last season, the Orange and Blue tied the Buckeyes in their dual meet, but finished two places ahead of them at the Big Ten Championships. Illinois will head into the meet ranked eight places below Ohio State, a fact Illinois head coach Kim Landrus says shouldn’t affect the Illini’s mindset.

“I don’t think our team should worry about rankings,” Landrus said. “Our team needs to worry about going out and hitting 24 routines. They can’t get caught up with what an opponent is doing or necessarily where we’re ranked. Where we’re ranked is only going to be as good as we make it out to be, in the end.”

Errors on the beam caused the Illini to fall to the Wolverines last weekend during the last rotation in Ann Arbor, Mich. Illinois had tallied its highest overall scores on the beam during the first two meets of the season. Crediting themselves with being a “beam team,” this week’s practice took a focus on fixing those errors.

“We are definitely making the situation, when we do routines, a little more pressured and stressful,” sophomore Sarah Fiedler said. “We all watch each other and cheer each other on, like we’re at the meet.”

Though Illinois didn’t take the victory, the Orange and Blue won numerous event titles. Sophomore Amber See took first place on the floor exercise for the third time in a row this season, and senior Kelsey Joannides took second in the all-around to junior teammate Alina Weinstein, who took first, tying the ninth-best mark in school history. Weinstein also won first place titles on the uneven bars and beam, leading her to receive Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors for the first time in her career.

Reviewing the dry erase board set up in their locker room this weekend, the Illini will look to achieve another goal they have set for this season: executing the small things.

“We (play) a subjective sport, and judges look at our routines and tell us what they see,” Landrus said. “We need to go out and execute our routines good and to not allow the judges room to take mistakes away from us.”

After two weekends of traveling, the Orange and Blue look forward to performing in front of their home crowd.

“Huff Hall is exciting,” Weinstein said. “We were just here for the guys, the guys had their first home meet and there were like 1,000 people there. The energy is just incredible in Huff. It’s nice to have a home crowd, and we are really excited to be back.”