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

Big Ten championships lies in sight of Illinois women’s gymnastics

Despite coming off of a season-high score of 197.275 this past weekend on Senior Night against Arizona (196.875), Missouri (197.600) and SEMO (192.700), Illinois women’s gymnastics is heading into the postseason at No. 31. The Illini finished the regular season at 16-12 overall and 4-5 in the Big Ten. 

At the last meet, Illinois honored its six graduating seniors: Kaitlyn Ewald, Amelia Knight, Allie Morgan, Abby Mueller, Mia Takekawa and Mia Townes. The Illini saw some outstanding performances and career-highs en route to their season-high collective score. Sophomore Alea Byrne excelled on the floor (9.950) and on the beam (9.875) for two new career-highs while Morgan capped off her fourth season with the Illini by setting a career-high on the floor with a 9.875.

Takekawa shared that it was a special night. Not only did the team achieve its score goal for the season, but sharing the occasion with all of the seniors in their last meet at Huff Hall was a way to unite the team.

“That 197.000 is a mark that we have been reaching for since the beginning of the season,” Takekawa said. “Made it a really special last meet at Huff Hall; just felt very much united as a team.”

The Illini fall exactly in the middle of the Big Ten rankings heading into the championship this weekend, which will be hosted by Michigan State. 

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Like any meet, there are challenges that arise. The environment and competition in a group of six teams are two challenges Takekawa spoke about ahead of the meet, noting that the team will have to rest for two rotations, which it hasn’t done this season yet.

“Being on podium definitely adds a level of difficulty,” Takekawa said. “It being six teams means that we have two bye rotations.”

As for team and personal goals, Takekawa mentioned that she hopes to have a repeat win in her two events but that the team is also aiming for the podium.

“Winning bars and beam for personal wins,” Takekawa said. “As a team, our goal is to really beat out any of the teams from the night session to get into that podium finish.”

Michigan State has not only the home advantage but is also sitting in the No. 1 spot with a 9-0 conference record and a 14-win streak. The Big Ten had a wide margin of success this season, with Rutgers occupying the end of the standings with an overall record of 10-15 and a 0-10 mark in conference.

The championship will be divided into two sessions, with the first four teams competing in the evening session and the remaining six competing in the morning session.

Takekawa shared her insights into how she feels that the earlier session is the more difficult to compete in. Despite this, she says that the team hopes to score higher than some of the times in the night session.

“(It’s) tougher to be in the morning session and not in the prime time top four,” Takekawa said. “Being able to outscore one, two (or) three of those teams in the night session will definitely be a huge accomplishment for us.”

Illinois women’s gymnastics will compete at the Jenison Field House in East Lansing, Michigan, on March 23 in the first session at 11 a.m. CT. 


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