Pink Meet has special meaning for Illinois women’s gymnastics


Illinois’ Erin Buchanan performs the floor routine during the meet against Centenary and Wisconsin-Eau Claire at Huff Hall on Jan. 18. The Illini won with 196.175 points.

Many sports teams have hosted pink-themed events in recent years to support the fight against breast cancer. The No. 17 Illinois women’s gymnastics team will be doing just that when it hosts Iowa this Friday for its annual Pink Meet.

“It’s just such a wonderful competition to be able to raise awareness for breast cancer,” head coach Kim Landrus said. “And it touches most of us on the team very dear to our hearts, so I just think it’s something great that we do every year.”

Freshman Erin Buchanan is one individual who values the Pink Meet dearly. She is most proud of her mother, a breast cancer survivor, who Buchanan said is her best friend and her inspiration.

“After she was diagnosed, that’s all I wanted to do, was go to a pink meet, and this will be my first one,” Buchanan said. “It means a lot to me, and I wish she could be here to watch it, but she won’t make it this weekend.”

Despite her mother’s absence this weekend, Buchanan continued, “She’ll be in the back of my mind the whole time.” While doing so, her mother gives an added motivation to excel.

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The Pink Meet will also feature children of breast cancer survivors walking in with the team. Outside of competing, this gives Buchanan another aspect to look forward to, as she can relate to them.

In the midst of this all, though, the Illini haven’t lost sight of achieving the win. This will be their second time competing at Huff Hall this season. In the home opener, Illinois came away with a dominant win over Centenary and Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and Landrus wants her team to do just what they did then. She also expressed her confidence in the team’s balance beam lineup, despite mistakes on beam last weekend.

Illinois currently averages a score of 195.617, while Iowa, who isn’t ranked in the top 25, averages 192.113. Despite the large difference, a strong finish is always key, particularly after the Illini fell short in last weekend’s final event.

“We worry about one routine at a time,” Landrus said. “There are 24 routines in a competition, and we need to make sure that we’re in it until the 24th routine is over.”

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