No. 19 Illinois to face an undefeated No. 18 Minnesota

By Tyler Fedak

Tweet: No. 19 @IlliniWGym look to jump ahead No.18 Gophers in national rankings #Illini

The Illini had a poor start in the bars and vault rotations last week against Penn State. Illinois relied
heavily on their beam and floor rotations to get the win, setting season high
scores in both events.

“At Michigan (the team) had a great floor performance, so they
just carried that through to State College,” head coach Kim Landrus said. “I
think they went in there with a lot of confidence and were determined to hit
their routines.”

Although Illinois is seeing success on beam and floor, it
can’t rely on those two events alone to bring life to its point total. On
uneven bars, Illinois failed to put together five hit routines last week, which
led to a significant point cut. The vault rotation is also not scoring enough points, but for a different reason.  The gymnasts have hit their vault routines, but Landrus says the difficulty now needs to be increased in order to
increase points.

With the key problems being bars and vault, the team had a base to focus on this week in practice.

“We’ve done a lot of team bars in practice working on consistency,
hitting handstands, and all the little details,” senior Giana O’Connor said. “For
vault, we’re just working on cleaning up our vaults and sticking our landings.”

O’Connor, an all-around gymnast, has to worry about being consistent and confident in
all of her routines.

“I lack consistency. I messed up last week on bars and the
week before on beam,” O’Connor said. “Confidence is also something I’m working
on. All together I just want to work on those two and get big scores to help
the team.”

All-around freshman Lizzy LeDuc won her first Illinois
career event title last week on beam, and is feeling a boost of confidence
going into this next meet.

“I’ve been working hard in practice to get where I want to
be,” LeDuc said. “I still need a lot of work, but it helps my confidence seeing
that I can hit my routine.”

With an undefeated No. 18 Minnesota in its sights for this Saturday,
No. 19 Illinois has the opportunity to come ahead in conference and national
rankings. Landrus says the team has the tools necessary to pull off a win this
weekend, it’s just up to execution.

“I think it’s important that at this time of the season we
are able to put four events together,” Landrus said. “So, if we walk out there
and hit all four events to the best of our ability, then I couldn’t ask for
more.”

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Sources: www.fightingillini.com, bigten.org, ncaa.com