Illinois women’s gymnastics takes 11th at Nationals

The Illinois women’s gymnastics team ended its season with an 11th-place finish at nationals Friday. Its final score of 195.800 was the first score below a 196 since Feb. 28, when it competed against Oklahoma.

The Illini competed Friday afternoon at the Birmingham Civic Center in Birmingham, Ala. They were placed in the first session of the semifinals against five other teams, but their last place finish in the session prevented them from advancing further to the Super Six.

Oklahoma, Georgia and LSU each advanced to the final night of competition from Illinois’ semifinal. 

Following a bye on the first rotation to begin Friday afternoon’s meet, Illinois competed on the uneven bars in the second rotation. The gymnasts got off to a slow start, with all scores falling below a 9.800. Freshman Mary Jane Horth and senior Elizabeth McNabb each scored a 9.775 to lead the 48.725 team total.

The Illini slightly improved on their next event, the balance beam, with a team total of 48.800. Horth led her team on beam with a 9.800, the first individual score of at least a 9.800 for Illinois.

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From there, Illinois had its final bye before heading to floor, its best event of the night. All six gymnasts in the floor lineup scored at least a 9.800, with the highest score of 9.875 coming from freshman Erin Buchanan. The Illini’s floor success gave them their first 49-point team total of the night with a 49.200.

Illinois finished its nationals experience on vault. The gymnasts earned a 49.075 on the apparatus, where they were led by Buchanan and sophomore Giana O’Connor’s 9.850’s. Horth and fellow freshman Emily Lennon also scored above 9.800, as the two each received a 9.825 for their vaults.

Despite, the failure to advance to the finals, Illinois’ 195.800 team total was the highest nationals score in program history.

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