LIVE BLOG: No. 28 Illinois at No. 18 Minnesota

Another Friday night Big Ten matchup is upon us! Minnesota has been rolling through the last few weeks and will have high expectations for this home dual. The Gophers are fresh off of a season high 196.375 at Nebraska last weekend where Lexy Ramler captured her fourth consecutive all around title and Ivy Lu took the bar title with a 9.925. Lu has yet to score below a 9.900 on that event in 2018. The Gophers have been especially impressive on floor, scoring 49.550 and 49.325 in their last two outings. Vault is one question for the Gophers, though as it can be heavy on 9.700s. Last weekend, they opted to vault five, pulling Abby DeMuse—who is battling back from injury—from the sixth spot.

Illinois is still searching for a breakout meet. The Illini are hampered by a vault rotation of all Yurchenko fulls that tend to stay in the 9.7s. Freshman Kasey Meeks has led the team there weekly, often the only vault to hit in the 9.800s. Because vault often scores in the high 48s, the Illini rely on other events to carry their score, which means any mistakes on the other three can be devastating. Last week those mistakes came on beam where the Illini counted two falls, including only the second fall of senior Bridget Hodan’s career. Illinois had an exhibition from Julia Hutcherson on beam and Sarah Lyons on bars as well; both routines were more successful than some in the lineup, so look for them to possibly break into the top six in Minneapolis. If the Illini are going to challenge the Gophers and hit their first 196 of 2018, they need to keep landing mistakes on vault to a minimum and hit the other three error-free.

Ramler is undefeated in the all around this year, and should easily extend that another weekend here, though Illinois’ Rae Balthazor and Nicole Biondi could stay close and keep things interesting.

New leo from Illinois! Very different than what we usually see from them.

If you’ve been with me before for a Big Ten meet on BTN+, you know that technical difficulties and starting late is usually a problem. Tonight seems no different. We’ll see when the feed is up and running!

My media player is just a black screen – this has happened before! Hopefully our friends at Flo will sort it out quickly. Still no video! Seems to down for everyone, not just me. I’ll stick around and see what happens!

Rotation 1: Minnesota vault, Illinois bars

Lindsey Dwyer (Ill.): Since I have no video I’ll get you what I can from twitter and scores for now.

Jordyn Givens (Ill.):

Ciara Gardiner (Minn.): Her first time back in the vault lineup this season!

Sarah Lyons (Ill.): She’s back! After an exhibition routine this weekend, this is her first lineup routine since rejoining the team for her redshirt season. (Some of these video files seem too big for WordPress to embed!)

Nicole Biondi (Ill.):

Ona Loper (Minn.): She added the Y1.5!


After 1: Minnesota: 49.125, Illinois: 48.475

Still no video, but I’ll keep collecting tweets and see if we ever get anything. Minnesota will be happy to have Loper upgrade successfully. She’s had that vault in her back pocket since preseason. Overall, that’s a solid start for the Gophers. Illinois counted a fall from Karen Howell (9.2, dropped Rae Balthazor’s 8.175). Without video, hard to say what went so wrong for Balthazor on her strongest event. Good to see Lyons back in that lineup. Long term, she should give the Illini a few tenths boost there, when they hit.

Rotation 2: Minnesota bars, Illinois vault

Haylee Roe (Ill.):

Givens (Ill.): Nice in the air, but it’s the hop that’s keeping her below a 9.8.

Nicole Biondi (Ill.):

Bridget Hodan (Ill.): Her second week in a row at 9.8 or better. Illinois needs her to keep that up!

Apologies Minnesota fans, I’m scrounging for videos! You’ll get one when I find one!

Balthazor (Ill.):

Over on bars a 9.2 just came in for Hannah Hitchcock. Minnesota will want to drop that score!

Kasey Meeks (Ill.): As usual, her big FTY pulls in the highest score on vault for the Illini.

Ivy Lu (Minn.): She keeps the 9.9+ streak alive! Hasn’t scored below that mark all year.

We have video! [Realized this was misleading! The feed is still dead. Meant video of the 9.975! Apologies.]

Another view:

Rotation 2: Minnesota: 49.025, Illinois: 48.9

After 2: Minnesota: 98.15, Illinois: 97.375.

Phew Ivy Lu! I’m sure Minneapolis is still screaming. One 9.975 can’t make up for counting three scores in the 9.7s, though, so the Gophers take a moderate event score. They’re still on track for a 196, though, which is the goal, and their best event is yet to come on floor. Illinois will take a 48.9 on vault. That is the weak event for the Illini, and two scores 9.8 or better is a win. They need to be flawless on beam and floor, though, to make up ground. They’re chasing a solid road score more than they are a win here.

Rotation 3: Minnesota beam; Illinois floor

Back up a moment while touch is happening, we have a video of Lexy Ramler’s bars. (Thank you Katherine Liu!)

VIDEO HAS PICKED UP! WE HAVE VIDEO. Biondi just finished floor. Traditional live blogging from here on out!

Selena Ung (Minn.): Bhs loso, solid, sort of a big lunge. Tiny bobble on the full turn. Cat leap switch side, nice. Hitch kick side aerial, no problems. She’s very calm and steady. Bhs gainer full off the side stuck. Nice! 9.775

Roe (Ill.): Starts with her signature grin! Love it. Double pike, high, good landing, flexed feet. Double back, really pops that one up too, another solid landing. Tour jete half, wolf full, drops her chest in the wolf. Front lay front full, nice landing. 9.775

Loper (Minn): Bhs loso, drops her chest completely but stays on. Front toss + beat, pretty! Switch + straddle quarter, solid. She’s fighting. RO double full, stuck. Good finish!

Karen Howell (Ill.): Double tuck, good landing. Front lay barani + straddle, pops up the straddle so high. Tour jete half  popa wolf full. Y turn to split, gorgeous! Love that. Double pike, slightly uncontrolled step. Gorgeous dance! 9.675

Gardner (Minn.): Full wolf turn. Front aerial bhs loso, wobbles. Split + double stag, really pretty. Hitch kick gainer full off the side, just a tiny hop. 9.775

Hodan (Ill.): FHS front double full punch front, gorgeous. Fun choreo that she seems to enjoy. FHS rudi loso. Switch + double stag leap. Illusion + Illusion little bobble straight to split. So fun! FHS rudi. Gorgeous. 9.75

Ramler (Minn.): Remember she’s second in the country on this event. Bhs loso, solid! Front aerial + wolf, gorgous. She has excellent presence. Beat + ring. Side arial + full, stuck. Beautiful throughout. 9.95

Balthazor (Ill.): Double tuck SKY HIGH, steps almost out? Can’t tell if she went over or not. Tour jete full. Looks so happy dancing. Tour jete full split full, nice. RO 1.5 + front lay, pretty, some leg sep. 9.75, hit for the landing on that first pass.

Rotation 3: Minnesota: 49.05, Illinois: 48.825

After 3: Minnesota: 147.2, Illinois 146.2

Minnesota had some great performances. It’s the middle of the lineup that hurts the Gophers on beam. Some 9.7s need to start becoming 9.8s before they’ll hit a huge score there. But Ramler’s consistent and gorgeous work continues to stand out. Illinois had some small bobbles to clean up, but overall looked solid. Nadalie Walsh has really changed the look of Illini floor, and the team seems to be settling into the new style well. If Balthatzor can get her huge power under control, she could get a huge score. At this point, a 196 is out of the cards for Illinois, but beam is one of the team’s best events, so the Illini will be looking to minimize mistakes and pull out a high 195.

Rotation 4: Minnesota floor, Illinois beam

Roe (Ill.): Bhs loso, solid. Beat + straddle 3/4, nice split. Cat leap + gianer loso, no problems. She’s moving quickly with confidence. Grins at the crowd, nice. RO 1.5, fights for the stick, they might give it to her or take a small step. Great leadoff! 9.8

Paige Williams (Minn.): FHS front double full, bit of a big step forward that they could take. Switch side + popa, huge split, great amplitude. RO 1.5 flared! Front lay, nice landing. FHS rudi, just a hop. 9.8

Biondi (Ill.): Switch + straddle 1/4 nice. Bhs loso, solid, just missing a toe point. Hitch kick front aerial. Stag leap, not connected, but shouldn’t be a problem. Over turned her full turn and covers it. RO 1.5, tries too hard for the stick, low landing huge step back. 9.625

Ung (Minn.): Double pike, little low and uncontrolled step. Switch side popa wolf full, not a pretty wolf position. Rudi, nice. RO whip 1.5, nice, some wild legs in the whip. 9.65

Howell (Ill.): Bhs layout two feet, drilled.Switch + straddle 1/4, nice. Front toss, no problems. She is determined not to wobble. Cat leap + switch side. Holds needle scale straight into gainer pike off the end, stuck! Excellent.

Rachel Cutler (Minn.): Front lay + front full, under rotates and a step. Tour jete half split full, nice. Rudi, good landing, some crossed legs but not a huge problem. Double back, chest a little low and steps. 9.55

Julia Hutcherson (Ill.): The junior’s first competitive beam, she’s previously vaulted once. Straddle mount. Gainer loso loso, gorgeous. Switch + split half, nice. Chest cartwheel! She’s smirking, so confident. Split + gianer loso, ah and she’s off. Gainer full off the side, stuck. 9.125

Gardner (Minn.): Sells chroeo from the first beat of music. FHS rudi loso, some wild legs in the rudi but huge. Doulbe tuck, hops, but very high. Switch side + popa. RO 1.5 layout. 9.825

Balthazor (Ill.): Hitch kick + switch side. Bhs loso long pause before but solid. Now she’s smiling. Front toss, tiny bobble. Gorgeous toes and attention to detail. Beat + straddle 3/4 solid. Gainer pike off the end, small hop. 9.725

Ramler (Minn.): Ring full, gorgeous. Doulbe pike, solid, very high. Stepped forward. Dramatic choreo that she SELLS. RO 1.5 front lay, gorgeous. Swithc ring, switch half. Doulbe tuck, massive, better landing. She’s a star. 9.825

Hodan (Ill.): She fell last week. Side aerial bhs, gorgeous. Switch + sissone, pretty in the air, she’s smiling. Hitch kick + Illusion, incredible connection. Cartwheel + stuck gainer full. Very pretty. 9.9, deserved, great comeback from last week.

Loper (Minn.): Double pike, big step out and the front foot slides. Switch ring + tour jete half, little shy of 180. Front lay rudi, low chest but pretty in the air. Y turn, pretty. 2.5, gorgeous landing. 9.8

Rotation 4: Minnesota: 48.9, Illinois: 48.9

Final: Minnesota 196.1, Illinois: 195.1

Well, that’s probably not the score either team was hoping for, but there were definite highlights and it wasn’t a bad meet for either team. Both teams show fun creativity. If you want to see some pretty gymnastics, give these two a watch at some point this season. Ramler extends her undefeated AA season another week!

THANK YOU for sticking with me through the early video kerfuffle!

Event Winners:

VT: Ona Loper, 9.9
UB: Ivy Lu, 9.975
BB: Lexy Ramler, 9.95
FX: Ciara Gardner and Ramler, 9.825
AA: 1. Ramler, 39.475, 2. Loper, 39.1, 3. Biondi, 39.0

Live blog by Emily Minehart

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