Illinois breaks records on Senior Night in last meet of regular season

The+Illinois+womens+team+poses+with+its+final+score+at+Huff+Hall+on+March+13.+The+Illini+beat+the+Golden+Gophers+on+Senior+Night%2C+and+the+score+was+the+highest+in+program+history.

Photo Courtesy of UIUC Women's Gymnastics Twitter

The Illinois women’s team poses with its final score at Huff Hall on March 13. The Illini beat the Golden Gophers on Senior Night, and the score was the highest in program history.

By Jonah Perez, Staff Writer

The last meet of the regular season was Senior Night, and No. 21 Illinois broke their team score record and beat No. 7 Minnesota 197.575 to 196.850.

This impressive win not only proves they can hang with anybody, but it will also greatly boost their National Qualifying Score, which determines conference and regional seeding.

The Golden Gophers were top ten in everything, but beam was where they were 11th in the country.

“It’s so exciting,” said head coach Nadalie Walsh. “We talk about how they are the class of athletes that can break records. I’m really so proud of them. They absolutely deserve it.

The previous record for team score was 197.300 at the 2015 Big Ten Championships.

However, it wasn’t the only team record broken during the meet, as they also broke their beam record with a 49.525.

They didn’t win the event, but Walsh was very happy they were able to be rewarded for their hard work in practice. Sophomore Mia Takekawa and junior Shaylah Scott had the highest Illinois individual scores on the event, and second-highest all time, with a 9.950.

Illinois also barely lost on vault 49.300 to 49.200, with sophomore Mia Townes having the highest Illini score of the day and fifth-highest all time, as she won the individual title with her personal best 9.925. Their team score was the highest of the season and seventh-highest in program history.

On bars, the Illini scored their third highest team total and won 49.425 to 48.650. In her bars competition, debut freshman Amelia Knight won the individual title by setting her personal best and tying for third in Illinois history with a 9.950.

On floor Illinois tied their fifth highest score in program history by winning 49.425 to 49.300. Townes set her personal best and scored the highest Illinois individual score with a 9.925.

Senior Nicole Biondi for the fifth time this season competed in the all-around event and finished in second place. She set her personal record with a 39.525, but fell short of Minnesota senior Lexy Ramler’s 39.725. Biondi also tied her personal record on vault with a 9.900 and set her personal record on bars with a 9.925.

These weren’t the only records tied and broken during the meet. On vault, Takekawa tied her personal best with a 9.800 and freshman Abby Mueller tied hers with a 9.775. On bars, senior Rachel Borden tied her personal best with a 9.850.

On beam, Townes broke her personal record with a 9.875, and Borden tied hers with a 9.875. On floor, freshman Kaitlyn Ewald broke hers with a 9.825.

Walsh praised the Illini’s continued belief in themselves and said that even when there are little things that need to be worked on, self-confidence is the key. She knows they are ready for the postseason.

“It feels so good, especially to do it on senior night and with my team,” said Biondi. Usually, we aren’t the team to look up at the scoreboard during meets so look up at the last minute and feel all that joy at the same time, together was just super exciting.”

Up next Illinois will travel to Minneapolis for the Big Ten Championships on March 20.

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