No. 13 Illinois women’s gymnastics to face Lindenwood on senior day

The Illinois women’s gymnastics team will host Lindenwood this Saturday at Huff Hall, but it isn’t just another meet for the seniors. It also marks senior day, as it will be their last home meet.

“Oh gosh. I don’t know,” senior Liz McNabb said when asked for her thoughts on her last home meet. “It’s kind of sad competing in Huff for the last time, but it’s also exciting just being a senior and representing our senior class and our school for the last time at Huff in front of all our fans.”

Sarah Fiedler, Amber See and McNabb are the trio of seniors on this year’s team. Both head coach Kim Landrus and junior Jordan Naleway spoke highly of their statuses as leaders and mentors to the younger gymnasts, which is partially the reason for the Illini’s motivation to really strive for success this weekend.

“I want the seniors to go out with no regrets, and I know that our goals as a team are their goals,” Naleway said. “So I just want to go out with a bang for them. They deserve it. They’ve been such great leaders for our team, and I just hope that we all just put everything into it.”

Along with the senior day festivities, though, come mixed emotions. Fiedler mentioned it has yet to hit her that she’ll be competing at Huff Hall for the final time. She does, however, expect to capitalize on her excitement for it throughout the meet “and wait to cry until after the meet.”

The meet against Lindenwood comes first. The ceremony for the seniors comes afterward. Without the meet, there wouldn’t even be a ceremony. The Illini, not just the senior gymnasts, can’t get ahead of themselves. They have to treat senior day just like every other meet to earn a win.

“We talk about distractions all the time,” Landrus said. “And so, whether it’s the distractions of senior day or it’s a distraction with the audience or any other distractions, we just need to make sure that we stay focused and we stay mentally ready, and we know how to do it.”

Illinois does hold a large advantage over Lindenwood scoring-wise. The No. 13 Illini average a score of 195.983, which is over five points more than the Lions do; however, the Lions aren’t the only opponents the Illini should keep in mind.

“It’s not really a competition between us and Lindenwood necessarily, but also us between every other school that we’re competing against to be ranked better in the Big Ten and better so that our rankings continue to go up,” McNabb said. “So it’s not just with Lindenwood, but we’re competing with other teams for scores, too.”

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