Illinois women's gymnastics looking to rise above .500 against Penn State


Justin Wolfe | The Daily Illini

Lizzy LeDuc on the balance beam during the match against Michigan at Huff Hall on January 22, 2016. Michigan won 196.825 to 195.15.

By Tyler Fedak

Jacob Lee has ramped the Illinois women’s gymnastics team’s practices this week.

Illinois has racked up early-season losses against Missouri and Michigan, and a win against The coaches are running multiple lineups a week to make sure the gymnasts can perform in the high-stress environment that they’ll see in competition.

After a week at home, Illinois hits the road this Friday night to take on Penn State in its third Big Ten match up of the

“I’m putting them in a lot of pressure situations, running the lineup as if we were doing it for Penn State,” Lee said. “I’m really trying to focus on hitting those handstands, landing those dismounts, and getting everyone to hit their routines.”

For freshman Lizzy LeDuc, the beginning of the season has been an adjustment period, getting used to the ways of the team and collegiate

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“The transition has been pretty okay to grasp,” LeDuc said, “I haven’t hit the routines quite like I’ve wanted to, but I’m slowly progressing over time.”

LeDuc has a team full of veteran members to help support her and get acquainted with college.

“It’s really nice having the upper classmen around to help me get through the day and through the hard times,” LeDuc said.

On the opposite end, Heather Foley is in the midst of her last year on the team, growing more sentimental as each meet passes.

“It’s a little bittersweet because every meet I think, ‘I only have this many meets left,’” Foley said. “I’m taking it all in, cheering my heart out for all my teammates, taking advantage of every opportunity I have, knowing that this is my last year.”

Looking to this Friday, Penn State has yet to win a meet and has been averaging in the 194’s in total points this season. If Illinois performs up to the caliber it have so far this season, with point totals in the 195’s, the Illini will come away from the Penn State meet with a win.

However, while their usual performance may be good enough to beat Penn State, the gymnasts are striving for more and think they have the ability to climb the standings.

“This team is so talented, we just haven’t put it all together on the same night,” Lee said. “They’re capable of going 196 and more, it’s just getting down to when the meet comes, when the time is right, they just need to put it all out there.”

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