The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

No. 21 Illinois women’s gymnastics suffers loss despite season-high against No. 15 Minnesota

Isaac Pinkus
Freshman Lyden Saltness prepares a big swing on the uneven bars during the meet against Minnesota on Feb. 18.

No. 21 Illinois women’s gymnastics suffered a very narrow loss to No. 15 Minnesota on Sunday, losing by just 0.100 points, with the final score coming out to 196.950-196.850. Despite the loss, the Illini saw their highest score of the season for the second competition in a row.

Starting strong on the vault, the Illini secured a tight win over the Gophers (49.050-49.025). Sophomore Arielle Ward tied for second place with a score of 9.850 and tied her career-high on the event. An additional 0.025 points placed senior Abby Mueller atop the podium at 9.875.

Illinois saw another exciting event win shortly on the bars, combining for 49.350 to Minnesota’s 49.075. Senior Amelia Knight and freshman Lyden Saltness tied for third place with 9.875 each, but graduate Mia Takekawa took home the win with an impressive score of 9.925.

However, the Illini lost their lead to the Gophers over the next two events. On the beam, Illinois scored 49.174, while Minnesota scored 49.350. Junior Ruthuja Nataraj shared a three-way tie for first place on the beam with an impressive score of 9.900, while senior Kaitlyn Ewald’s 9.850 tied a career-high in the event.

The meet concluded on the floor where Illinois suffered another close loss, 49.275-49.500. Graduate Mia Townes posted an extremely high score of 9.900 but was tied for third in part due to Minnesota’s Mya Hooten receiving a perfect 10.000 on one of her attempts. Junior Kadyn Fitzgibbon was shortly behind Townes with a 9.875, and senior Allie Morgan tied her career-high (9.850).

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As for the all-around competition, Mueller was just barely behind her Minnesota counterpart (39.300-39.275). Mueller did, however, tie career-highs on the vault (9.875) and (9.825) while setting a career-high in the all-around event.

Head coach Nadalie Walsh spoke about this weekend for the team and how it was truly a double blessing for the athletes. Walsh also mentioned the team’s unwavering attitude when it comes to competing.

“Huge double blessing to get two meets, two opportunities,” Walsh said. “The team is very excited about competing. They’re not hesitant, and they want more.”

Walsh also elaborated on what back-to-back season-highs for the Illini will mean down the stretch.

“I’m so happy that the team was able to hit twice this weekend and get the season high today,” Walsh said. “It’s going to keep the momentum propelling forward as we finish the second half of the season.”

A fight for every 10th is what Walsh said the team is being conditioned for and what they are achieving as the season progresses. Walsh says that the team fights and earns every bit of their scores each week.

“The Illinois team has to earn every single score that they get,” Walsh said. “They don’t get any handouts. They’re being conditioned to have to be very tight-minded and do what they need to do.”

Illinois women’s gymnastics will compete at the Big Five Meet in University Park, Pennsylvania, on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.


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Isaac Pinkus, Assistant Photo Editor
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