Illini win exhibition meet against Redbirds

Mia+Takekawa+performs+on+the+balance+beam+during+the+Womens%E2%80%99+Gymnastics+Exhibition+against+Illinois+State+at+Huff+Hall+on+Thursday.+While+exhibitions+do+not+count+toward+a+team%E2%80%99s+record%2C+the+event+allowed+an+opportunity+for+the+team+to+be+judged.

Photo courtesy of Illini athletics

Mia Takekawa performs on the balance beam during the Womens’ Gymnastics Exhibition against Illinois State at Huff Hall on Thursday. While exhibitions do not count toward a team’s record, the event allowed an opportunity for the team to be judged.

By Claire O'Brien, Staff Writer

The Illinois women’s gymnastics team competed in an exhibition meet against Illinois State Thursday night at Huff Hall. Illinois won the friendly, 191.700-188.800.

Exhibitions don’t count toward a team’s record, but scores were recorded and events judged.

“(Having judges) makes it feel real,” said senior Karen Howell. “We’ve been doing exhibitions in the gym where we’ve had our coaches judging us, but having real judges here and getting real scores of what we would see during season makes everything seem more real.”

The Illini and the Redbirds competed against each other this year at the State of Illinois Classic in March. Illinois defeated Illinois State, 196.075-195.075, in the tournament event.

Freshman Mia Takekawa started the evening competing on vault. Other Illini competing in the vault included freshmen Arayah Simons, Julia Waight and Lexi Powe. Seniors Morgan Bixler and Howell also competed in the event, along with sophomore Shaylah Scott.

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    After Illinois’ individual performances on vault and Illinois State’s appearance on the bars, the Illini led the Redbirds 47.950-47.000.

    But at the end of the second rotation, Illinois State was ahead in the vault, 48.300-47.950, but Illinois was ahead in bars, 47.700-47.000, giving the Illini the lead.

    Next, the Illini competed in the balance beam while the Redbirds competed in the floor exercise. Junior Rachel Borden was the first competitor in the balance beam for the Illini heading into the third rotation. Other Illini competing in the beam included junior Nicole Biondi, Howell, Takekawa, junior Kylie Noonan, and Scott.

    Once Illinois State concluded its stint in the floor exercise and Illinois finished on the balance beam, the Illini pulled ahead, 143.050-142.00.

    Takekawa, Scott, Howell, Simons, Noonan and Biondi competed in floor exercise for the Illini to conclude the evening.

    Individually, Takekawa tied for first on the bars alongside Illinois State’s Angelica Labat with scores of 9.750. Takekawa also won the balance beam with a score of 9.95. Simons finished second in the vault with a score of 9.700 and was the highest-finishing Illini in the event.

    “It’s definitely a different kind of pressure than I’ve had,” Takekawa said. “The added pressure, it just makes you focus more.”

    The Illini travel to Missouri on Jan. 4, giving them about a month between competitions.

    Head coach Nadalie Walsh thought the team performed well overall, but said she wants to tweak things within the turnaround time.

    “We had so many really good things,” Walsh said. “I think the girls did a really great job of getting some jitters out, and they’re gonna be hungry to do better once season gets here. We have just enough time to be ready.”

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