LIVE BLOG: No. 10 Iowa at No. 4 Illinois

The No. 10 Hawkeyes have traveled east to face Illinois for the second Saturday in a row, this time heading down to Champaign after both teams just faced off at the Windy City Invite. Illinois came out victorious there while also taking four event titles, and Iowa placed fourth with 10 top-10 finishes. Illinois comes into today as the easy favorite, having a team high score 10 points higher than Iowa’s debut score last weekend, but this is gymnastics and anything can happen. Last year, Iowa beat both Minnesota and Penn State in regular season meets, showing that the Hawkeyes are capable of pulling off surprise upsets when their foes aren’t hitting.

The Illini are ranked in the top eight on every event, peaking at No. 3 on vault just ahead of their two No. 4-rankings on pommel horse and rings. Iowa ranks in the top 10 on four events—with pommel horse and vault the exceptions—and outrank Illinois on high bar with its No. 3 position.

Illinois is led by senior Alex Diab who is ranked in the top 10 on floor and vault while holding the top ranking on rings, the event he won at NCAA championships last season. Although he holds the top ranking on rings, Oklahoma’s Yul Moldauer posted the highest score of the young season on the event last weekend, so watch for Diab to try and best his career high yet again this season to retake top score honors. Also watch for junior Michael Paradise, the second ranked gymnast in the nation on pommel horse, and Clay Mason Stephens, the current Big Ten freshman of the week.

As stated earlier, Iowa’s best event is high bar, where it is the only school in the country with four gymnasts ranked in the top 20. Bennet Huang, the nation’s 14th ranked all arounder, also boasts top 20 rankings on floor and pommel horse, the highest on the team on those events. With Big Ten regular season matchups counting now counting toward the Big Ten regular season championship title, the Hawkeyes will need to step up from their performance last week to be able to contend with the Illini tonight.

Follow along with scores and on the stream!

We’ve got some club teams competing here tonight as well, so notice that the teams aren’t rotating in the traditional dual meet format. Hopefully they show routines on the stream in dual meet fashion though so we don’t miss anything!

Looks like we’ve got Huang as the only all arounder tonight for Iowa, while Illinois has Jacobson and Stephens based on the tweeted lineups from both teams.

Rotation One: Illinois – Floor, Iowa – Pommel Horse

Martin (ILL): opens with a double arabian perfectly stuck, front layout to double full lands OOB, double full stuck but some arm waves, clean press handstand, 1.5 to 1.5, back layout side pass, dismounts with a 2.5 just a small slide on the landing, 13.550

Kovach (ILL): mounts with a front full to rudi, stuck, front layout to double front just a hop forward, double full to front half small hop, nice wide arm handstand, rolls into another, side pass is a stuck double full, dismounts with a double arabian with a small hop, 13.600

Chung (Iowa): good through the swings, keeping good rhythm, a little off balance on the handstand on the dismount but looks to be a hit, not 100% sure as it joined mid-routine, 13.250

Carter (ILL): front full to front 2.5 to open a small slide to the side, double double chest a little low, 2.5 to rudi stuck, front double full to front half tiny hop, split to press handstand well controlled, double full side pass stuck, dismounts with a triple full with a small adjustment, 14.000

Davis (Iowa): joins mid-routine, some piking in the hips but moving well, small hitch on the way up to handstand but finishes clean, 12.850

Quiana (ILL): front 2.5 to open, 2.5 to front full stuck, whip double arabian another good landing, 1.5 to rudi done cleanly, side pass is a stuck double full, quick press handstand, front double full to close with a tiny hop forward, 14.150

Merryman (Iowa): only saw the dismount but it looked clean in the pirouette, 13.350

A. Diab (ILL): mounts with a stuck front 2.5, front double full to tucked front full stuck as well, double layout with a slide back, 2.5 to front layout side pass stuck cold, good wide arm handstand, double full side pass just a shuffle on the landing, dismounts with a triple full, 13.800

Stephens (ILL): front double pike hops forward, nearly stuck double double, front double full to front full and steps off the floor, 2.5 to stuck front half, solid press handstand and wide arm handstand, stuck double full, dismounts with a double arabian just a hop forward, 14.050

Jacobson (ILL): AA performance, joins mid-routine after a commercial (ugh), dismounts with a full-in with just a hop and a little low chest, 13.600

Brodarzon (Iowa): must be an AA performance, good rhythm in the swings but very piked, loses leg form a few times but gets through without a fall, 10.950

After One: Illinois 69.600, Iowa 66.150

Diab going sub-14 on an otherwise solid floor rotation hurts a little bit since we all know he’s capable of much more. Illinois is going to have to keep it up if it wants to hit the big scores the other Big Ten schools put up earlier today. Iowa did its job on pommel horse, only having to count one routine in the 12’s. It’s also four points better than the Hawkeyes did on the event last week at Windy City so that’s huge for them.

Rotation Two: Iowa – Rings, Illinois – Pommel Horse

Davis (Iowa): dismounts with a stuck full-in, 13.000

Fletcher (ILL): moves right from some scissors to swings, pretty flexed feet and loses rhythm and comes off, remounts, finishes the rest cleanly including a good dismount, 12.050

Huang (Iowa): joins mid-way through, piked yamawaki to tucked, a little struggle in the press to handstand, dismounts with a stuck 1.5 twisting double tuck, 13.350

Mistretta (ILL): opens with some quick scissor work into his circles, keeps a good pace throughout and delivers a hit, 12.850

Ball (Iowa): starts with a strong cross, moving cleanly through his holds, good piked yamawaki to straddle sit, good press to handstand, we don’t get to see the dismount, 13.500

Martin (ILL): good scissor work, great line in his swings, circles go well, a little trouble in the dismount, may have missed a pirouette or just moved his hand to keep balance, not 100% sure, but mostly a hit routine, 13.150

Chung (Iowa): good L-sit to open, nice straight body planche, piked to tucked yamawakis, cuts away to horse, 12.900

Skirkey (ILL): nice circle work to start, bit of a piked body line, keeping good pace, a quick pace, cleanly through to the dismount, 13.850

Wong (Iowa): dismounts with a 1.5 twisting double back just a few steps back, 12.850

Jacobson (ILL): good swings then press to handstand, moving nicely through the circles, had some trouble on the landing of the dismount but another hit routine for the Illini, 13.050

Brodarzon (Iowa): didn’t get to see any of it, but scores a 13.650

Paradise (ILL): the pommel horse stud for Illinois, great body line in the swings, a nice Russian as well, and a few more too, loses the toe point a bit, moves a bit slower towards the end into the press handstand but gets it up and dismounts, very good routine, will score well, 14.700

Stephens (ILL): AA performance, lots of scissor work to start, moves into his circles, bit of knee bend throughout, doesn’t make it up to handstand on the dismount, doesn’t salute and looks as if he will re-attempt it, 11.400

Illinois on pommel horse 67.600, Iowa on rings 66.400

After Two: Illinois 137.200, Iowa 132.550

Both events were improvements for both teams compared to last week. Iowa by a few tenths and Illinois by about a point. Illinois’ pommel horse rotation suffered from a few form breaks but Paradise’s huge score in the anchor spot is huge for the Illini. They’re currently on pace to beat their score from Windy City, as is Iowa despite a miss from Wong on rings. Brodarzon came up big as the Hawkeyes anchor on rings but they are still looking for their first routine to break the 14.000 barrier.

Rotation Three: Illinois – Rings, Iowa – Vault

Kovach (ILL): good straddle planche, tucked to piked yamawakis, a bit wonky into the straddle hold, nice press up to handstand, good front giant, dismounts with a 1.5 twisting double back just a small hop, 13.400

Diaz (ILL): nice planche to open, bit of low legs on the straddle planche, a bit of knees and toes in the yamawakis, nice giants, dismounts with a full twisting double layout, slightly piked and a big hop back, 13.300

Wong (Iowa): kaz full, stuck! Just some minor form problems in the air, 14.050

M. Diab (ILL): great planche, a bit low legs on the next one, piked and tucked yamawakis just flexed feet, a bit of swing in the L-sit, good job killing the swing on the front giant, stuck double tuck dismount, 13.500

Davis (Iowa): Kaz full with a step forward and chest low, 13.950

Jacobson (ILL): bit of closed hips in the straddle planche, very pretty yamawakis, dismounts with a stuck full twisting double layout, just the slightest bit of piking, 13.600

Herrador (Iowa): stuck kaz full, tiny bit low with chest, 14.550

Stephens (ILL): tiny bit of swing in the cross, good front giant, just the feet in the yamawakis, bent arms up to the handstand, stuck full twisting double tuck, 13.150

Illinois is starting to figure out these landings!

Brown (Iowa): giant kaz 1.5, little short on the landing and takes a few stumbles back, 13.750

A. Diab (ILL): so ready to watch this routine, beautiful crosses, not even the slightest bit of swing, great feet in the piked yamawakis, another good cross, good front giant, tiniest form break in a second giant, full twisting double layout small hop, not perfect but darn close to it, 14.650

Illinois on rings 68.450, Iowa on vault 71.050

After Three: Illinois 205.650, Iowa 203.600

Iowa a casual four point improvement on vault from last week. A couple of them nailed those landings, and it showed. Illinois left a little to be desired with some form issues on rings, but Alex Diab came up big in the anchor spot for the Illini, seemingly the theme for them through the first half of this meet. Illinois is on pace for a great score, but with arguable its three best events over with, the vault score will need to be huge to compensate for the lower scores the Illini tend to get on parallel and high bars.

Rotation Four: Iowa – Parallel Bars, Illinois – Vault

Quiana (ILL): kaz full, clean in the air just a small hop back, 14.250

Jacobson (ILL): DTY, stuck! Just some heavy arm waving on the stick but holds it, 14.350

M Diab (ILL): kaz 1.5, two small hops forward, 14.350

Huang (Iowa): double pike dismount, small slide back, 12.000

Fletcher (ILL): kaz 1.5, big step forward, looked off-line as well but couldn’t see the lines due to a sting mat, 14.400

Mandozzi (Iowa): nice healy, quite archy on the handstand, stuck double pike dismount, 13.600 

A. Diab (ILL): kaz 1.5, nearly stuck just a small hop, landed on the directional line, 14.500

Stephens (ILL): DTY, very clean in the air, small hop back, 14.500

Merryman (Iowa): good peach, nice L-sit, showing excellent body control, healy and clips his leg on the bar and breaks, dismounts with a stuck back layout, great except for the miss on the healy, 12.450

Brown (Iowa): nice pirouette, good peach, tippelt with just some knee form, double pike just over-rotated and a big hop back, 13.000

Brodarzon (Iowa): opens with a controlled L-sit, good Bhavsar, nice giant, quickly up to handstand in the tippelt, small hand adjustment on the peach half, double pike small hop, 13.200

Davis (Iowa): AA performance, nice L-sit to start, great control on the pirouette, tiny clip of the bar on a healy, good peach half, dismounts with a double pike, chest a bit low and a tiny hop,

Illinois on vault 72.100, Iowa on parallel bars 65.100

After Four: Illinois 277.750, Iowa 268.700

Parallel bars is one of Iowa’s weakest events, but the Hawkeyes muscled through to improve upon their score from Windy City despite a few misses. Without those errors the score will improve drastically. Illinois killed it on vault. Nothing exceptionally flashy, just super clean form and only minimal landing deductions. Once those landings are consistently sticks the Illini will be dangerous there with their superb form.

If Illinois wants to match the huge, and Big Ten leading, 413.150 that Michigan put up earlier today it needs to average 67.7 on it’s last two events. It’s doable, but the Illini only went 66 and 64 on these events last weekend. It’ll be a tough challenge.

Rotation Five: Illinois – Parallel Bars, Iowa – High Bar

Diaz (ILL): has to muscle up an early handstand, nice pirouette just a bit of form, good tippelt just some knees, solid peach half, dismounts with a double pike, opens early and is very short, hands down on the mat, 11.650

Chung (Iowa): tkatchev half, slow up through the giant, nice stalder, dismounts with a full twisting double layout, lands so short he does a punch front to his butt out of it, 11.900

Kovach (ILL): moving quickly through his handstands, nice release work, some leg separation on the peach half, L-sit to press handstand well controlled, double pike with a step back, 13.500

Huang (Iowa): yamawaki, great stalders, good jam, endo almost doesn’t make it to handstand, cuts away to pbars, 12.900

Stephens (ILL): nice peach full, some form on the peach half, lots of flexed feet, nice tippelt, small hand adjustments, double pike just a hop back, 13.700

Merryman (Iowa): nice stalder, layout tkatchev caught a bit close, bent knees in the giant, misses a hand on a tkatchev half and has to kip and break, cuts back to p bars, 11.350

Fletcher (ILL): moving quickly through, clean bhavsar, tippelt just some flexed feet, double pike just a shuffle back, 13.300

Mandozzi (Iowa): good tak half, layout tkatchev has to bend knees in giant, nice straddle tkatchev and tkatchev half, flexed feet in a stalder, full twisting double layout dismount just a hop back, finally a hit for Iowa, 12.900

Quiana (ILL): very well controlled healy, nice pirouette, had to muscle a handstand a bit, moving through well now, another hesitant handstand, double pike just a small slide, 13.300

Herrador (Iowa): good yamawaki, nice German giants, hits the handstand too, good tkatchev, jam to endo done well, dismounts with a stuck full twisting double layout, 13.750

Jacobson (ILL): nice pirouetting and releases, small hand adjustments, beautiful tippelt, a tad short of handstand on a peach half, double pike dismount just a hop back, 13.950

Brodarzon (Iowa): AA performance, yamawaki, tkatchev caught at a great distance, weiler kip, dismounts with a full twisting double layout, nearly stuck just a shuffle after fighting for it, 12.650

Illinois on parallel bars 67.750, Iowa on high bar 64.650

After Five: Illinois 345.200, Iowa 333.450

Not an ideal rotation for either team. Iowa missed a big opportunity on what is typically its best event with some misses and falls. Illinois hit the average target score to beat Michigan’s score on parallel bars, but with high bar being such a low scoring event a few extra tenths to a point would’ve done wonders.

Rotation Six: Iowa – Floor, Illinois – High Bar

Mistretta (ILL): joins mid-way, good jam, weiler kip but a tad late on handstand, full twisting double layout dismount just some soft knees on the landing and a step forward, 12.500

Carter (ILL): yamawaki and misses the catch, too far, remounts, repeats the yamawaki completely fine, layout tkatchev and is too far again, remounts, repeats it and connects into a straddle tkatchev, does another straddle tkatchev, nice stalder, hop full, full twisting double layout dismount just a small hop, 10.650

Brodarzon (Iowa): double double chest low, nice double layout, 2.5 to front layout done well, nice press handstand, good split to wide arm handstand, side pass stuck double full, front full to front half, cuts to high bar, 12.850

Stephens (ILL): layout tkatchev a bit close and misses the catch, remounts, jam to handstand, great weiler kip, tak half hits handstand just some leg separation, full twisting double layout with a small hop, 11.800

Besting Michigan’s score is out of the question now, unfortunately.

Quiana (ILL): full twisting layout kovach done great, layout tkatchev beautiful, straddle tkatchev half just some flexed feet, nice weiler kip, one armed giant, dismounts with a full twisting double layout and a hop, the crowd LOVED that one, 13.400

Jacobson (ILL): full twisting kovach caught well, layout tkatchev slightly piked, beautiful straddle tkatchev half, has a great toe point, one armed giant, dismounts with a full twisting double layout and finally gets a stick for Illinois on high bar, 13.400

Herrador (Iowa): joins mid-way, 2.5 to front full small hop, dismounts with a triple full just a shuffle back, 12.450

Thompson (ILL): yamawaki to open, hop full, full twisting kovachs, straddle tkatchev, same with a half turn, tak half but missed the handstand, one armed giant, dismounts with a full twisting double layout and another stick, 13.850

Huang (Iowa): opens with a huge full twisting double layout nearly stuck, front layout to double full just a shuffle, 2.5 to front half stuck, split to wide arm handstand done cleanly, side pass double full to punch front 1 1/4, dismounts with a triple full, tiny hop, 13.850

Illinois on high bar 64.950, Iowa on floor 65.350

Final: Illinois 410.450, Iowa 398.800

Season highs by both teams! Iowa wasn’t able to pull off the upset tonight, which starts off Illinois at 1-0 and Iowa at 0-1 in the Big Ten regular season standings. Iowa had a much better showing tonight than its debut last weekend in Chicago, even with the sub-par high bar rotation. The Hawkeyes do need to find routines on events other than vault to break 14.000 to elevate their score to compete with the top teams. Illinois should also be pleased with its performance tonight with season highs on every event, even with the high bar mishaps. Jacobsen also won the all around with a respectable 81.950, showing that the Illini have lots of options on every event since he is one of two different Illini to take an all around title so far this season.

Live Blog by Brandis Heffner

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