Illinois women’s gymnastics seniors reflect on their time at Illinois


Wenyuan Chen

Illinois’ Sarah Lyons performs a routine on the uneven parallel bars during the State of Illinois Classic at Huff Hall on Saturday, March 5, 2015. The Illini claimed victory for the ninth consecutive year with a total of 195.425 over Northern Illinois (194.225), UIC(192.625) and Illinois State (191.500).

By Danielle Williams, Staff writer

As their season comes closer to an end, the Illinois women’s gymnastics seniors are now reflecting on their college careers.

Seniors Erin Buchanan and Sarah Lyons have enjoyed their time competing for the Illini and have appreciated the the support from their teammates and coaches.

“It’s overwhelming but you can’t let the emotions get the best of you,” Lyons said. “I’ve been so blessed to be an Illini. I wouldn’t change this experience for anything. Whether we move on or not this weekend, it will be a great closing chapter in my career.”

Lyons said head coach Kim Landrus played a big part in her decision to compete with the University in 2014.

“Coach believing in me and giving her never-ending support encouraged me to be the best I could be,” Lyons said.

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Though she redshirted her freshman year due to injury, Lyons was quick to make up the time she lost during the season.

In 2015, Lyons hit all 13 of her uneven bar performances; she also recorded the second-highest score for the Illini on bars that season.

She continued her momentum into her senior year.

This year, Lyons averaged a 9.850 on bars, not including the future scores from the NCAA Regional, which will take place this weekend.

Lyons’ career-high average on bars is 9.87 and 9.850 on vault.

She said that the significance of this being her last NCAA Regional is like a fairytale because of how unreal her experience with the Illini has been.

“The overall feeling of this place gives me a sentimental feeling,” Lyons said. “It’s never going to happen again in our lives. We’re never going to be able to create these bonds and have this experience.”

Buchanan will also leave her mark on this team.

The former Big Ten Freshman of the week earned the title three times and was ranked No. 10 on vault in the Big Ten. She was short of earning All-American status at the NCAA championships on floor her rookie season.

“Erin has been an incredible addition to the team,” Lyons said. “She has brought tons of personality and obvious talent to the program. It’s been an honor to have known her and be her teammate.”

During Buchanan’s sophomore year, she finished fourth in the all-around at the six-team Morgantown Regional.

In 2016, Buchanan recorded the team’s highest score on vault, 9.900, at the Big Five Meet and earned seven individual titles.

“I have watched Buchanan grow into the wonderful person she is over the past four years,” Landrus said. “She’s meant a lot to the program. She’s very athletic and has done great things all around.”

Buchanan notched season-high averages of 9.875 on both the uneven bars and the floor exercise.

With one more scheduled meet to go, Buchanan holds career-high averages of 9.25 on vault and floor and 39.375 in the all-around.

“All four years, there have been ups and downs for all of us,” teammate Mary Jane Horth said. “It’s crazy to think that it’s almost over.”

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