LIVE BLOG: Ann Arbor Regional Round One: No. 29 Illinois vs. No. 30 Central Michigan

Well this one is a stinker, isn’t it!? The NCAA: “Let’s put the two highest round one teams together to fight for the death, especially since they would probably both advance to round two if they were separated in any other round one competition. [Evil laugh.]”

I’m sure the meeting went just like that. We’re not going to talk about the other evil laughing that undoubtedly went down while planning this regional. I know. We know. It’s Not Good. But here we are.

I could pretend to try to guess which of these teams will advance, but I won’t. It’s a who will hit today sort of battle. Illinois is on an upswing, but Central Michigan has been more consistent all year. The key for Illinois will be surviving vault in rotation one, then being normal on the other three. If the Chippewas put up their coasting, regular score, they’ll be in good shape. There’s really not more to it than that: This is very evenly matched.

Remember, whichever team advances will compete as the fourth seed in session two tomorrow against UCLA, Nebraska and West Virginia. Whichever team doesn’t advance will send its individual qualifiers into Friday’s competitions. See below for a refresher on those individuals.

Illinois: Kasey Meeks, vault (session one, with Penn State); Mary Jane Otto, all around (session two, with Central Michigan); Karen Howell, all around (session two, with West Virginia); Shaylah Scott, beam (session two, with Nebraska); Kylie Noonan, floor (session two, with West Virginia). Central Michigan: Denelle Pedrick, all around (session two, with West Virginia).

Alright. Ready? Let’s do it.

Unclear whether there will actually be an overall stream for this thing. I see one for each event right now. Good cool yes yep.

Touch is happening! This thing might start on time.

If we really don’t have an all around feed, and I’ll have to hop between events, this will become…interesting. I’m on a work laptop (hi, sorry job!) and only have one screen today, so. We’ll see how this goes!

AHA! The main feed has popped up. Thank the heavens.

This sound quality is…hmm. Sam Peszek is explaining the new format for us.

Rotation 1: Illinois vault, Central Michigan bars

Zoeller (CMU): Giant 1/1 + Tkatchev. Bail. Why did we start on bars?! Full-in, hopped right up on her toes.

OH HEY BOTH EVENTS ARE GOING AT ONCE. EVEN THOUGH THIS IS A DUAL. What the heck. We missed Dwyer’s FTY, which Sam says was a hit.

What on earth.

Otto (Ill): FTY, some pike and a small hop.

Johnson (CMU): Hect mount, blind + geinger bail hand good. The feed had her name wrong la la la. full-in, low chest.

Howell (Ill): FTY some pike but a near stick.

Miller (CMU): hect mount, short handstand. Blind + Jaeger knees. Bail hand, little shy. Short last handstand, too. Full-in, landed feet apart.

We missed Donovan’s vault.

Meeks (Ill): FTY BIG!, stepped forward.

Porter (CMU): Hect mount. Blind full + Geinger. bail hand some sloppy legs. Short last handstand. full-in, medium step back.

Roe (Ill): FTY, tucked, big, and a big hop back. SHE HAS A PARTIALLY TORN ACHILLES WHAT.

Pedrick (CMU): The names are still wrong. Get it together Flo. Tkatchev, little close. Blind 1/1 + pak, switch kip. Blind full + toe on half, small hop. Nice set!

Plaksa (CMU): Hect mount, short first handstand. Blind + Jaeger. Nice bail hand. Better last handstand. Blind + double front, great landing. Good way to end for the Chippewas.

AFTER ONE: Central Michigan 48.725, Illinois 48.675

Phew scores are tight. Illinois survived vault, which was the goal. Both teams need to think about landing errors. We saw way too many steps from two teams in a knockout round. As promised, it is going to be a close one.

Rotation 2: Central Michigan vault, Illinois bars

Taking this moment to harp on sound quality. Peszek sounds like she’s underwater. Come. ON. This is postseason. Fury is building.

Fettinger (CMU): FTY, some pike and a big hop back.

Dwyer (Ill): Hect mount. Blind + pike Jaeger + bail, good flow. Great lines in this set. Blind 1/1 + double tuck, hop forward.

Tong (CMU): Yhalf, good distance, step forward.

Bixler (Ill): Long wait for Dwyer’s score, she’s dancing on the springboard to stay loose. Bar coach Bogantes had her step off. OK, she’s back. Deltchev, good. Clear hip hand to bail hand, good positions. DLO stuck, very nice!

Johnson (CMU): FTY, some hip angle, tiny hop.

Demarinis (CMU): FTY, twisted on the table.

Williams (CMU): FTY, big and a large hop.

Biondi (Ill): Apparently her recent absence was due to a sore knee. Blind + Jaeger, good. Bail hand. Shy last handstand. Blind 1/1 + double tuck deep landing, big step forward.

Pedrick (CMU): DTY, hip angle but good landing.

Howell (Ill): “Carol Howell” close; where is Carol. Hop change + pike Jaeger, good. Pak, great form. Her toes are lovely. Blind 1/1 + double tuck, small hop.

Otto (Ill): We’re watching a split screen even though CMU is done vaulting. Cool. Maloney to pak, great extension. Van Leeuwen, good. Great handstands. Full out, small step. Exquisite.

Donovan (Ill): Blind + pike Jaeger to bail, good flow. Shy last handstand. Blind 1/1 + double tuck, low chest forces her to hop forward.

AFTER TWO: Illinois 97.600, Central Michigan 97.450

Again, both teams are suffering from a case of the hops. Some cleanliness on bars has helped Illinois pull just ahead; the Illini hit more handstands than the Chippewas did in rotation one, and that is the difference.

Rotation 3: Illinois beam, Central Michigan floor

Tong (CMU): Front through double tuck, low chest and steps forward. Switch to split 1/1 was good. It is…pretty empty in Crisler. #Thursday. Combo pass lost some amplitude. Double pike, low chest but holds the stick.

Noonan (Ill): We missed Borden. I’m sorry I’m not set up for multiple feeds! Didn’t think I’d need it today. Everything is fine here. Bhs loso totally solid. She’s so quick. Good jumps. Sissonne + gainer loso, slightly off but held it. Cartwheel gainer 1/1, good. And the beam feed fizzled out anyway. Super duper.

Demarinis (CMU): Double tuck, very high. Double pike, good. Missed her jumps while watching beam. 1/1 + front lay, some arch.

Williams (CMU): Very precise and dynamic dance off the top. Love it! Double pike, very good landing. The beam feed appears to be entirely out. Switch ring + switch 1/2. Front 1/1 + front lay, little off balance but she saves her landing. Double tuck stuck. Great!

Beam feed is back hooray.

Scott (Ill): She adjusted something on the beam, so let’s hope we don’t have an equipment problem! That would just take the cake. We missed Otto’s beam in that snafu. Front tos bhs, stellar. Switch + split. Front aerial, good. Cartwheel gainer 1/1, good.

Zoeller (CMU): Double tuck bounced up a bit into the lunge. aaaand the feed cut away to beam. That’s not super cool. She’s back. Rudi + straddle to end, good.

Flo. Come on.

Fettinger (CMU): 5/2 + front tuck, good, little low on the front. Switch side popa, cheated the rotations. 3/2 + front lay, nice, better amplitude on the second salto this time. Rudi, some knees.

Oh super there’s a problem with the beam!

Howell (Ill): Pretty flow in and out of her full turn. Bhs lay two feet, slightly off but she covers it well. Switch + straddle 1/4, good splits. Great extension in her dance. Cat + switch side. Gainer pike small hop.

Pedrick (CMU): Sam telling us her 3/1 was shy, but we didn’t see it. combo pass was solid. Double pike, low chest hops forward. Just not quite there energy-wise.

Roe (Ill): Bhs loso off to the side, but she pulled it back. Just a .2-ish error. Beat + straddle 3/4. Cat + side somi + back 1/1 dismount. stuck!

AFTER THREE: Illinois 146.575, Central Michigan 146.350

Phew scoring has NOT loosened up. Illinois used a very steady beam rotation to pull ahead of the Chippewas, who suffered from some low landings on floor. Still, though, this will come down to the final routines.

Rotation 4: Central Michigan beam, Illinois floor

Are you anxious? I’m anxious. Touch feels like an eternity. An elimination round was a great idea, NCAA, but doing it on a Thursday afternoon was BAD. BAD. SHAME.


Plaksa (CMU): Falls on her front tuck mount. Pressure’s on now. Switch + straddle 3/4, slightly off balance and does a windmill. Bhs loso, small check. She’s very tight. Beat + sissonne. To her credit, she’s still smiling. Gainer pike stuck. Good finish.

Scott (Ill): cutting into the middle. Switch ring + tour jete 1/2, pretty. Great Rudi to end.

Porter (CMU): Getting a big pep talk from coach MacDonald. She’s dancing while she waits for the score. She waited through all of Otto’s floor and is still waiting after it. Big test here as she finally mounts. Split + tuck 3/4. Bhs loso solid. Switch + straddle 1/4, very nice. This is impressive. Side aerial 1/1, stuck. Very nice.

Otto (Ill): Bit of a wait here too. Going at the same time is saving literally no time because of these simultaneous waits. Alright here we go. Whip half barani, she looked a little off balance? Maybe didn’t get a rotation she intended to. We’ll see if it lowers her SV. 3/2 + front tuck good.  Switch ring + Khorkina, good, that’s such a fun combo. FHS rudi to close, good. I think she should be alright SV, but we will see.

Dwyer (Ill): We cut in as she had a very bouncy landing. Switch ring low front leg wolf 1/1 to end.

Demarinis (CMU): Bhs loso tiny check. Switch 1/4 another check. Beat + straddle 1/4 solid. Front aerial, some knees. RO 3/2 stuck!

Howell (Ill): She’s so graceful on this event. Front through double tuck good landing. Switch side + popa + wolf 1/1, her full turn right into split. Just such gorgeous dance work. Double pike, good lunge chest a bit low.

Tong (CMU): Press mount, pretty! Front aerial bhs loso, good connections. Switch + sheep. She just lacks a touch of extension in her toes, but otherwise she’s very lovely. Small check on the full turn. Bhs bhs tuck 3/2, step back.

Noonan (Ill): FHS 2/1, controls the lunge but it’s a touch to the side. FHs front lay rudi, good amplitude. Switch ring + cat 3/2, nice. 3/2 + front lay, good.

Pedrick (CMU): back dive mount. Bhs loso some knees in the bhs but solid. Cat + switch 1/2, not quite there on the split. Front aerial. She has a very quick and confident pace. RO 2/1, stuck!

The scores are down! Who else is nauseous?

Roe (Ill): She’s having a blast off the bat. Front lay rudi, good. Tour jete 1/2 runs through wolf 1/1. 3/2 front lay lands short, stays on her feet but a big deduction.

Memmel hit in the anchor for CMU, we just saw her landing.


Scores are in! Illinois will advance to day two!

FINAL: Illinois 195.325, Central Michigan 195.275

Well. As expected, that came down to the very last landing. That was INTENSE. I’ll be back with you for both sessions tomorrow, as well as the big show on Saturday. Everyone go eat a cookie or something to recover; we’re nowhere near done.

Live blog by Emily Minehart

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