Four Illini earn Big Ten All-Conference honors

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Photo Courtesy of UIUC Women's Gymnastics Twitter

Sophomore Mia Townes celebrates after competing in an event during the meet against Minnesota at Huff Hall on March 13. Townes is one of four Illini to earn Big Ten All-Conference honors this season.

By Jonah Perez, Staff Writer

The Big Ten Conference announced its all-conference women’s gymnastics teams for 2021. The teams were assembled based on gymnasts’ individual National Qualifying Score, and No. 16 Illinois has the third-most members with four.

Senior Nicole Biondi, junior Shaylah Scott and sophomores Mia Takekawa and Mia Townes were all named to the All-Conference Second-Team. Illinois was tied with No. 7 Minnesota for the most second-team inclusions.

Biondi has been an all-conference member before, as she was part of the All-Conference Second-Team as a freshman in 2018. Scott also has been an all-conference member before, earning a spot on the second all-conference team as a sophomore last year.

This is Takekawa’s second year in a row on an all-conference team. Last year as a freshman, she was named to the All-Conference First-Team. This is Townes’ first time on one of the conference teams.

Only three other members of the current team have been all-conference team members before. Sophomore Arayah Simons was  named to the All-Conference Second-Team last year, and seniors Kylie Noonan and Kasey Meeks were All-Conference Second-Team inclusions in 2019.

Also revealed were the honorees of the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, and Illinois junior Mallory Mizuki was named to the team for the first time. The only other current Illini gymnast with this honor was Biondi, who won the award last year.

Honorees distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. They also had to be in good academic standing and demonstrate good citizenship outside the gym.

The only teams with more all-conference members than Illinois were No. 3 Michigan with five and Minnesota with seven.

The Big Ten Championships start on March 20, and as a top-four seed, the Illini are part of the evening session alongside Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota.

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