Mistakes on beam cost Illinois women’s gymnastics a win at Minnesota

The Illinois women’s gymnastics team suffered its first Big Ten loss on Saturday when it fell 196.225-195.350  to Minnesota in Minneapolis.

Coming into the last rotation of the meet, the Illini had only scored above a 49 on floor. The team had fared well, though, as Illinois only trailed Minnesota by 0.025. Illinois’ last event, the balance beam, proved to be its best in this young season. Illinois came into the meet ranked No. 2 on beam; however, against the Golden Gophers, it turned out to be the Illini’s biggest obstacle — the team total of 48.575 on the event was the lowest one of the competition. Freshman Emily Lennon’s less than ideal 9.425 had to be counted due to senior Elizabeth McNabb putting up an even lower score of 9.300.

“We kind of let down a little bit, had some errors that I don’t see on a daily basis,” head coach Kim Landrus said. “So that was disappointing.

“It’s important that when you go into the last event you have to really finish the meet strong, and for whatever reason, we didn’t go up there and perform the routines we normally do. And so, we ended up having so many errors we needed to count.”

Senior Amber See added that mental mistakes had a large role in Illinois’ atypical beam score.

“Beam is really a mental event, and it’s really hard to focus when you let outside distractions get in the way,” See said. “We just kind of did that, and as soon as someone messed up or fell, the next person had even more pressure. So I think that people were trying not to focus on that, but it was a really hard task.”

While the team failed to remain consistent on beam, it managed to improve on vault. Its home-opening win over Centenary and Wisconsin-Eau Claire featured Illinois posting a 48.700. This past Saturday, the Illini put up a 48.850.

“Amber See had one, if not the best vault, I’ve seen her do ever,” Landrus said. “She has a very high difficulty vault. Freshman Emily Lennon did do the higher difficulty vault and did that very well. So those were two very encouraging things, and I really think that pumped up our whole lineup.”

As for individual success, See tied for first on vault with a 9.925, tying her career-high and continuing her streak. She also took second on floor with a 9.900 and in the all around with a 39.350, a new career-high. Despite her stability, the senior isn’t completely satisfied yet.

“Being consistent is great, but I haven’t been consistent on every event,” See said. “So I think I have a lot of room for improvement, and I think I can set my standards even higher. So although it may seem I’ve been consistent, I think that I can achieve even better scores.”

Fellow senior Sarah Fiedler earned a 9.825 on the uneven bars, enough for a three-way tie for first and her first title of the season. Despite team difficulties on beam, junior Sunny Kato posted a 9.875 for the first-place tie.

Although there was individual success to take from the loss, the main focus is with the team’s success.

“We need to finish the meet regardless of what our score is, and we need to keep our minds tight throughout the whole meet and just not let up, because regardless of if we’re winning, or losing or whatever, it doesn’t matter,” See said. “As long as we finish strong, then we’re going to feel better about our performance in general. So I think we just need to take from it that we need to keep our heads in the game throughout the whole meet and not let up.”

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