The first Saturday of the 2020 season is here, and I’m in Horton Field House to live blog New Hampshire at Illinois State. This EAGL vs. MIC matchup pits two teams against each other that both have conference championship aspirations this season. The Wildcats finished the 2019 season as conference champions, ranked 34th in the nation, and made an appearance in the first round of regionals while the Redbirds finished ranked 56th in the country and placed third at the MIC championship.
The big story today is the debut of New Hampshire under first year head coach Lindsey Bruck Ayotte, who takes over for Gail Goodspeed after 40 seasons at the helm for the Wildcats. Bruck Ayotte is familiar with the program, however, as she was the associate head coach the past four seasons. This meet will be a homecoming for new associate head coach Steve Avgerinos, who was an assistant and associate head coach at Illinois State for 21 years before leaving for New Hampshire this season.
The Redbirds are led by senior Gabrielle Cooke, the team’s top gymnast from 2019, competing in the all around at every meet. Cooke and Illinois State’s best event is floor, so watch for the Redbirds to end the meet on a high note. New Hampshire will also likely end the meet on a high on beam, an event where it is known for its prowess. Sophomore Hailey Lui is the Wildcats’ top returning beam worker from 2019.
Warmups have just ended and we already have our first bit of action. The New Hampshire coaches brought out their level for the beam and have concluded it’s not up to par for them! Via eavesdropping I believe I heard that Illinois State is going to use the beam currently on the floor and that it’s going to be changed before New Hampshire finishes up the meet on it. I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated on the drama!
Team intros are underway! Decent sized crowd here. Maybe one hundred give or take, but the bleachers being about five feet from the floor makes it quite an intimate environment. The Redbirds are in their black and red flames leo while the Wildcats are competing in their traditional blue and white ombre.
Rotation 1: Illinois State Vault, New Hampshire Bars
Illinois State’s Cooke is out with an ankle injury, so already not a good start for the Redbirds. She’s up and walking, so likely nothing serious.
Iribarren (ISU): handspring front tuck. Good in the air just a small hop forward on the landing. 9.400
I’ve got a front view of bars so I’m apologizing ahead of time if I accidentally lie about any short, on, or over handstands on bars.
Hampford (UNH): blind change to jager, caught nicely, shoots down to low bar and jumps back up. Dismounts with a full pirouette to double tuck. steps forward.
Topp (ISU): handspring front pike. Not a good block so has to tuck it in the air and then sits it down. 9.000
Watkins (UNH): blind change to jager, half pirouette to straddle back, all clean so far. dismounts with a starfished double layout with a hop back.
Doctor (ISU): balks on her first run as her arm brace starts falling off mid run. Second try now. Yurchenko half. Super clean in the air. Not a ton of power but only has to take a small hop forward. 9.650
Solka (ISU): tucked Yfull. Not a ton of height. Comes in low on the landing and almost puts her knees down, but steps to the side to save it. 9.300
Freehling (UNH): blind change to piked jager, bail to handstand hits handstand, dismounts with a double layout. legs pasted together but a small bit of piked body and a hop back.
Labat (ISU): Y1.5!!!! Comes in short and stumbles back but stays on her feet. 9.625
I’m not seeing scores anywhere but I will update as soon as I have them.
Bandy (ISU): tucked full to her knees and elbows. 8.800
Diggan (UNH): opens with a nice hop full, geinger with a bit of legs, blind change to straddle back and a huge arch, dismounts with a double layout. Nice legs in the dismount but a small hop back from piking down early. 9.625
Gorgenyi (UNH): mounts to the low bar, toe on, toe on shaposh to bail to shoot to high bar, great FTDT to close and just a small hop! 9.750
AFTER 1: NEW HAMPSHIRE: 48.200, ILLINOIS STATE: 46.975
A decent start for the Wildcats and the opposite for the Redbirds. No major errors on bars for New Hampshire, just some form things and landings to clean up. Illinois State really struggled on vault, especially without Cooke. The two falls hurt a lot, as did the landings on the others.
Rotation 2: New Hampshire Vault, Illinois State Bars
Freehling (UNH): clean Yfull, small hop back. Great start for the Wildcats. 9.625
Quigg (ISU): nice toe on, shaposh with some legs and back to the low bar, stadler to double tuck and a hop back. 9.150
Calandra (UNH): Yfull, low in the air and takes a large step sideways. 9.350
McGowan (ISU): geinger with a bit of legs, great bail! dismounts with a full pirouette to double tuck. Pirouette was great but double tuck a bit low. 9.375
Kelley (UNH): another good Yfull. clean in the air just a bit of piking at the end that causes a step back. 9.750
Winer (UNH): pretty much an identical Yfull to Kelley! New Hampshire can vault! 9.750
Wiggle (ISU): jumps to high bar, blind full to geinger, some leg separation, messy bail, dismounts with a full pirouette to double tuck and a step back. Double tuck was sky high and legs glued together! 9.650
Diggan (UNH): good distance on a Yfull. Decent sized step back. 9.700
Gorgenyi (UNH): good distance and height on the Yfull. Sizable step back. 9.700
Marema (ISU): messy first handstand, nice deltchev but can’t kip out of it. Shoot to low bar and then falls on the handstand after jumping back to the high bar. Remounts on the low bar and hops back to the high bar. Peels off early on the FTDT dismount and falls off to the side. 8.000
New Hampshire just vaulted two more exhibition Yfulls that could easily be in the lineup. Major depth for the Wildcats on vault. I’m impressed.
Labat (ISU): opens with a toe on, super high ray to immediate shoot to low bar. Dismounts with a FTDT and nearly stuck! Just had to lift a leg at the end. Finally a fully hit routine for ISU! 9.775
Labat and a healthy Cooke are going to do wonders together in the MIC this year.
Iribarren (ISU): short on first handstand, has to press through the blind change but nails the jager, clean bail, dismounts with a nice double front and just a step forward. So close to two hit routines in a row. 9.725
AFTER 2: NEW HAMPSHIRE: 96.725, ILLINOIS STATE: 94.550
New Hampshire put up five clean and powerful Yfulls to take a commanding lead over a struggling Illinois State. The Redbirds only had one fall on bars, so it was better than vault, but all those little errors and breaks are starting to take their toll on the scores. Illinois State went 47.675 on bars while New Hampshire went 48.525 on vault.
Rotation 3: Illinois State Beam, New Hampshire Floor
The beam on the floor from warmup was not changed since, but I do see a second beam off to the side… Possibly a change coming up after this rotation as overheard earlier.
Solka (ISU): nice full turn off the top, slight pause, bhs loso with a small side check, good switch leap and jump combo, side aerial super solid, nearly stuck gainer full dismount. A opening hit for ISU! 9.600
Freehling (UNH): opens with a controlled double pike, some T Swift music going on to start but quickly changes to some EDM, 1.5 twist to punch layout, low and quick but lands on her feet, switch leap to wolf full to wolf half done well, dismounts with a double tuck, a bit low chest on the landing but a solid start. 9.550
Barron (ISU): split leap to standing loso to beat jump nice and sturdy, same on the bhs to loso, switch leap to back tuck, small leg up, steps back out of her full turn, RO 1.5 to dismount, small step back but another hit routine. 9.600
Lui (UNH): mounts with a front double full, dances into her step, good layout to rudi, floaty RO to loso in her choreo, nice switch ring to split full, ends with a rudi to split jump. Everyone’s hitting now. 9.650
Wiggle (ISU): standing loso to back tuck after a long pause, but solid, split leap to straddle 3/4, side aerial also clean, small wobble on a full turn, gainer pike dismount and just a small step back. 9.600
Kelley (UNH): double pike to open and over rotates and flys OOB onto her back, gets back into the choreo before a well controlled and clean RO 1.5 to front pike, ends with an under-rotated double tuck and steps forward. 9.025
Topp (ISU): finally a full turn without a check, bhs to loso and falls, was really low, switch side to straddle half done really nicely, solid front toss, stuck gainer pike to end. Shame about the fall because the rest was aggressively hit. Some angry beam. 8.950
Winer (UNH): amazing full-in to open, she’s so small but tumbles so high, RO 1.5 to layout half to jump done well, ends with another high pass, double tuck, great landing. A great routine after a fall. 9.825
Remkus (ISU): bhs loso flight series, way off and puts a leg up and somehow stays on, leap series is solid, cat leap to side somi and comes off backwards, hits the moonwalk, dismounts with a great and stuck tucked front full. 8.850
Diggan (UNH): another amazing full-in to open, barely needed to lunge, front layout to layout half a little arched but the landing is good, dismounts with a double tuck, opens a tad early and takes a step forward. 9.700
Labat (ISU): front aerial to beat jump, tiny bit of knees but secure, bhs loso is nice and high, switch leap to switch half, slightly shy of the turn, bhs 1.5 dismount and just a small shuffle. She is making the most of her collegiate debut. 9.750
Sounded like a final hit routine for the Wildcats, but Operation: Replace the Beam is taking place in front of me and completely obstructing my view. But that’s right, A NEW BEAM.
One of the exhibition routines for New Hampshire has her music open with the Amber Alert beeping you hear on TV… interesting choice.
AFTER 3: NEW HAMPSHIRE: 145.050, ILLINOIS STATE: 142.175
Again, New Hampshire puts up five good routines for another good rotation! Those full-ins were truly awesome, and a treat to see from a meet between EAGL and MIC teams. Illinois State was a bit all over again, about half hit routines and half falls. I can’t stress enough how much the Redbirds are missing Cooke right now.
Also just heard Topp is out on floor, so the Redbirds are only putting up five routines.
New Hampshire went 48.325 on floor and Illinois State went 47.525 on beam.
I will say New Hampshire is warming up beam MUCH better now than what I saw earlier. Hopefully I didn’t just jinx it though.
Rotation 4: New Hampshire Beam, Illinois State Floor
Wiggle (ISU): opens with a double pike, big step back but stays in bounds, RO 1.5 to front pike is stuck, switch side to leap series done cleanly, dismounts with a double tuck, small step forward from being a bit short but she needed to hit and she did! 9.700
Freehling (UNH): coach was mad beam didn’t go first, bhs to loso to beat jump makes up for it though, very nice, low front toss but pushes through and doesn’t even wobble, hitch kick to leap is good, dismounts with a stuck RO 1.5. Great leadoff. 9.650
Iribarren (ISU): stuck double pike to open, barely needed to lunge, obstructed view of leaps but looked good, second pass is front layout to front full, small knee bend but another hit pass, ends with a double tuck and controls the landing for another good routine. 9.775
Baddick (UNH): all to the tune of “Keep Your Head Up” beam music, punch front, fights a lean to the side but eventually comes off, solid bhs loso, super high beat jump, weird that it’s alone, good split jump to sheep jump, small check, front full dismount with a step back.
Solka (ISU): mounts with a sky high double tuck that wasn’t rotating fast enough and falls, decent height on leap series, RO 1.5 to layout half, piked down at the end but good landing, she killed her facial expressions in that routine. 9.200
Worthington (UNH): hopefully this is a “Hall of Fame” routine, as her music would suggest, side aerial to bhs super crooked but stays on and barely even wobbles, switch half to split jump is clean, side aerial to layout full dismount, low chest but her toe point stood out to me during that whole routine.
Labat (ISU): front double full with a slide forward to open, if she was OOB is TBD, missed the second pass and leap series, but rudi is clean to finish her collegiate all around debut! 9.700
Winer (UNH): bhs loso to open, tiniest of checks to the side, cat leap to front toss, a bit low but secure, switch leap to split side done cleanly, great toe point again, slight pause before her stuck bhs to 1.5 dismount. Finally the super clean routine they’re known for.
Barron (ISU): over-rotates and sits her opening double pike, tour jete half to wolf full is good, punch layout to front full has some knee problems and a hop forward, dismounts with just a layout, not sure if that was a balked pass but it basically sums up today for Illinois State. 8.500
Kelley (UNH): big bobble after her full turn, rebounds into a great bhs loso loso series, no problems there, switch leap to split side and a wobble back but stays on, front toss, not low like her teammates so far, beat jump to Popa, bhs to 1.5 and a small shuffle forward.
Lui (UNH): great front aerial to split jump, bhs to loso and a small check, full turn with a check, side aerial and another small wobble, no problems on the side somi, switch leap to split jump is gorgeous, dismounts with a RO 1.5 that’s stuck! Legs a bit far apart but oh well. Good way to end the meet.
Illinois State went 46.875 on floor and New Hampshire 48.350 on beam.
FINAL: NEW HAMPSHIRE: 193.400, ILLINOIS STATE 189.050
This was a mixed bag of a meet. New Hampshire had an overall good day, finishing with a score a bit lower but on par with its season openers the past few seasons. Freshman Kylie Gorgenyi had a good freshman debut for the Wildcats, notching two scores above 9.700 in a meet where scores below 9.000’s were a thing a lot. Illinois State will want to forget this one. The Redbirds have, however, scored below the 190.000 mark in each of the past few seasons and still have been able to break 195.000 too, so anything is possible once this team gets healthy. Freshman Angelica Labat had a debut that we won’t forget though, really the only bright spot for Illinois State tonight.
That’s all for me from Horton Field House tonight! Thanks for following along and happy opening weekend of collegiate gymnastics!
Vault: Robyn Kelley (UNH) 9.750
Bars: Angelica Labat (ISU) 9.775
Beam: Emma Winer (UNH) 9.775
Floor: Emma Winer (UNH) 9.825
AA: Angelica Labat (ISU) 38.850
Live Blog by Brandis Heffner
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