Illinois women’s gymnastics aims for consistency against Iowa


Illinois’ Kelsi Eberly performs a floor routine during the match against Penn State at Huff Hall on Feb. 1.

The Illinois women’s gymnastics team may be ranked No. 15 in the GymInfo rankings, but they aren’t satisfied with their performance thus far.

Senior Kelsi Eberly feels the Illini have experienced a lot of success five meets into the season, but consistency is their focus heading into Saturday’s meet against Iowa at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

In its last meet, Illinois came away with the win despite having two falls on the balance beam, so the gymnasts want to correct that and hit all 24 of their routines. To do so, practice consisted of working on pressure sets — particularly on beam — to help create a meet-like atmosphere. They have also been tinkering with the beam lineup — something the team’s confident about.

Falls aren’t the only thing to fix, though.

Meets always come back to the little things, whether that be hitting handstands, sticking dismounts, improving leaps — anything to get those extra tenths to help reach the goal of scoring a 196 or better.

The meet against Iowa also marks Illinois’ first away meet in two weeks, with its last away meet being a loss at Michigan on Jan. 25 — the only loss of the season. Regardless, the team is excited to travel again.

“We enjoy doing that and kind of going in and taking over other people’s gyms,” Eberly said of away meets. “We’re definitely ready for another weekend.”

Illinois is coming into the competition with an advantage over Iowa in that the Hawkeyes are Illinois’ first unranked opponent in three weeks. The Hawkeyes are averaging a 194.770 coming into Saturday’s meet, while the Illini are averaging a 195.800 — a score Iowa has yet to achieve this season. Illinois is also ranked on all events, while Iowa is ranked only on uneven bars and floor. However, Iowa’s No. 12 ranking on floor is better than Illinois at No. 20.

The Illini have progressed from last week, when they were ranked on all events except vault, but they need to continue that progress if they want to score at least a 196, a goal of theirs.

The team’s real concern, however, isn’t about scores or even winning. They want to be consistent in the gym, whether that’s at practice in Kenney Gym, home meets at Huff Hall or away meets elsewhere.

“It’s always about bringing it out back onto the competition floor and showing it off and showing everyone what we can do,” junior Giana O’Connor said.

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