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. 23 Illinois women’s gymnastics finishes second at Big Five Meet 

Junior+Makayla+Green+celebrates+after+completing+a+successful+vault+during+the+meet+against+Minnesota+on+Feb.+18.+%0A
Isaac Pinkus
Junior Makayla Green celebrates after completing a successful vault during the meet against Minnesota on Feb. 18.

No. 23 Illinois women’s gymnastics is coming off another impressive win over the weekend, earning 196.8500 points for the second competition in a row. Illinois finished ahead of No. 37 Maryland (195.100), No. 31 Iowa (196.225) and No. 22 Penn State (196.775) but suffered a loss to No. 7 Michigan who scored 197.500. 

Starting strong on the vault, sophomore Arielle Ward soared to a career-high with an impressive 9.900 and secured second place in the event. Sophomore Alea Byrne also earned a career-high and a sixth-place finish with a score of 9.875. Senior Abby Mueller and graduate Mia Takekwa both scored 9.850 for the team while graduate Mia Townes and junior Ruthuja Nataraj tallied 9.825 each. A combined score of 49.300 put the Illini in first place on vault.

Freshman Lyden Saltness scored a near-perfect score of 9.9750 on the bar, standing atop the standings when all settled. Senior Amelia Knight and Takekawa both scored 9.900 and tied for fifth place. Mueller’s 9.825 moved the Illini to 49.400 as a team on the bar, good for another event win.

Illinois was elite across the board on the beam, and no one scored under 9.800. The team’s combined total of 49.025 was led by an impressive 9.900 from Nataraj. It was Nataraj’s second week in a row leading the Illini on the beam and was rewarded with a seventh-place finish. Senior Kaitlyn Ewald was next in line for Illinois (9.825) while Knight, Mueller and Takekawa tied at 9.800. The Illini as a whole ranked third on the beam.

Unfortunately, Illinois fell to last place on the floor while still scoring 49.075. Townes, who tied for fourth place, scored a 9.925 which was just 0.025 away from her career-high. Ward tied her career-high with a 9.875 and tied for ninth place.

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Mueller tallied an impressive 39.200 in the all-around competition, which was good for a seventh-place finish. 

Mueller shared how she believes this is a great time for the team to see an increase in the overall scores. The regular season is drawing to a close for Illinois, with the Big Ten championships less than a month away. On top of carrying momentum into the postseason, the Illini still have several matchups with high-level opponents that will require them to continue to be on top of their game. 

“This is a good time for us to start to peak so we are on track when we head to Big Tens,” Mueller said.

Illinois women’s gymnastics compete in Columbus, Ohio, on March 1 at 5:30 p.m. CT. Illinois will take on No. 14 Ohio State, Kent State and Bowling Green. 

 

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Isaac Pinkus, Assistant Photo Editor
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