Illinois women’s gymnastics dominates in home opener


Illinois’ Giana O’Connor performs the uneven bars routine during the meet against Centenary and Wisconsin Eau Claire at Huff Hall on Saturday. The Illini won with 196.175 points.

Nearly 10 points separated the Illinois women’s gymnastics team from the second place opponent in Saturday’s home-opening win. Illinois ran away with the tri-meet, scoring a 196.175 to triumph over Centenary College and Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which posted scores of 186.650 and 185.975, respectively.

“A 196 is a great score, especially for the second meet,” sophomore Giana O’Connor said. “There’s always room for improvement and always things we can work on, but I think (Saturday) went really well.”

The team totals for Illinois featured a score above a 49 in all events besides vault, where the Illini scored a 48.7.

“It was great for our team to come out for the first time at home and really hit four for four events,” head coach Kim Landrus said. 

Along with the win, the Illini placed in the top five for all of the events, giving Illinois the clean sweep. Senior Amber See won her second straight vault title with a 9.8. Junior Sunny Kato brought home her first event title of the season with a 9.9 on the uneven bars. On the balance beam, Kato and senior Elizabeth McNabb tied for first with scores of 9.85. Riding a wave of confidence, O’Connor won her first all-around title with a score of 39.250.

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“The first meet I lacked some confidence, and I’ve been working on it all week to build it up,” O’Connor said. “I came in here pretty confident that I was going to hit.”

Freshman Erin Buchanan also earned her first collegiate event title. Her 9.925 on floor exercise was the highest individual score of the night, which didn’t surprise Landrus.

“We always knew that Erin was a really talented individual, so it’s just great that she actually is now able to come out and perform,” Landrus said. “She’s a performer. She loves to compete, so I’m very proud of her, because she’s worked really hard this preseason.”

Despite all of this early success, Landrus knows there’s still work to do.

“We have to continue to be aggressive,” Landrus said. “We have to continue to attack. We have to continue to work on all of the little things that make such a big difference in our sport.”

Ashley can be reached at [email protected] and @wijangco12.