LIVE BLOG: No. 56 Bowling Green at No. 25 Illinois

The final weekend of the regular season is upon us and helping kick off the action is tonight’s fun matchup between Bowling Green and top 25 foe from the Big Ten, Illinois. The Illini enter as heavy favorites and on senior night will have added motivation to not only notch a win, but possibly earn a second consecutive 197.

Holding Illinois back in the rankings slightly is a road 195 that it won’t be able to drop until later this weekend, but another 197 tonight would do wonders for its home scores and give it plenty of momentum to improve on its away scores in its Saturday quad-meet. The key to last week’s season-high was the beam lineup finally living up to its potential as star Mia Takekawa hit 9.950 to lead the Illini to a flashy 49.450 event total after maxing out at 49.100 on beam previously. Mallory Mizuki’s much improved meet with 9.875 or better on bars and beam was also a big contributor as Illinois will be aiming for similar performances from its cast of specialists.

Early season struggles have already taken the Falcons out of regionals contention, but they will look to finish their season on a good note having earned season-highs in each of their last two meets. Taylor Jensen, the team’s top all arounder and biggest contributor all season, matched her season best all around mark leading Bowling Green to break 195 last week and could challenge for the title should Takekawa have an off day. Complimentary all arounder Katrina Mendez Abolnik also had the best four event total of her season last week and will surely be hoping to replicate that outing.

Follow along with scores and video!

Rotation 1: Illinois Vault, Bowling Green Bars

Takekawa (Ill): Yfull. Good block, legs together, sticks! 9.875

Solorzano-Caruso (BGSU): Ray, nice height, good handstand and bail, giant full to double tuck, way past handstand but gets the stick. 9.775

Mueller (Ill): Yfull. A little low, good distance and a hop back. 9.850

Bornhorn (BGSU): Short on first handstand, good giant full to Jager to overshoot, misses final handstand, great giant full to double tuck and gets the stick! 9.825

Nataraj (Ill): Yfull. Good distance again, just a slide back. 9.850

Mendez-Abolnik (BGSU): Blind full to Geinger to overshoot, legs came apart throughout, nice final handstand, pikey double layout and a step back. 9.750

Townes (Ill): Yfull. Great amplitude, maybe not a ton of distance, big heel raise in place in a near-stick. 9.925!

Jensen (BGSU): Clear hip to Tkatchev to overshoot, done well, good final handstand, some bend knees in the casts, just a small slide on the double layout. 9.850

Powe (Ill): Yfull. Another great looking vault in the air, just a hop back. 9.825

Harsch (BGSU): Giant half to Jager, big height but just taps her hands and falls, remounts, nice bail, big wobble before hopping to the high bar, good handstand and giant full to double tuck, sticks. 9.000

Simons (Ill): Yfull. Huge height, flairs it out and sticks!! Legs glued together throughout too. 9.950!

Weilbacher (BGSU): Beautiful toe point in the Jager, stadler, wonky pak and takes a bunch of extra swings, toe on to FTDT dismount, hoppy in place. 9.175

Ewald does an exhibition vault – front pike half, chest down and a lunge to the side.

Rotation 1: Illinois 49.475, Bowling Green 48.375

An absolutely massive score for Illinois to start for a lineup of only Yurchenko fulls, but, they’re some great fulls. That’s the ideal start for a team fresh off of a season-high, and with seemingly loose judging (by Big Ten standards) the Illini could be on track to repeat the feat. Illinois boosted its season-best on the event by just under a tenth while notching a new program record as well!

The miss in the anchor spot following a fall really hurts as the Falcons were off to their best start of any rotation of any event this season. However, Bowling Green was still around its average while counting an error, therefore going error-free from here on out could still potentially result in a season-high and overall good outing.

Rotation 2: Bowling Green Vault, Illinois Vault

Bannister (BGSU): Yfull. Messy legs on the table but clean in the air, wild hop back. 9.600

Borden (Ill): Big Jager to open, caught far and peels off the bar and takes a hard fall, thankfully gets up quickly, chalks, remounts, repeats the Jager, misses again, remounts, swings to build momentum into an overshoot, hits last handstand, giant half to Rudi, just a step back. 7.750

Bennett (BGSU): Yfull, Good block, chest way forward on the landing but clean in the air, small hop. 9.775

A long wait here for Borden’s score as one might expect. Judges conference.

Simons (Ill): Toe on to Ray to overshoot, nice open hops throughout, tiny bit short on last handstand, great giant full to double tuck, sticks it! 9.875

Harsch (BGSU): Yfull. Pikey throughout, good height, hop back. 9.775

Mizuki (Ill): They didn’t cut to the routine for the start, but she missed her release and fell, remounts, giant half to piked Jager, gorgeous, nice bail, good giant full to double tuck, flung it out and takes a step. 9.325

Weilbacher (BGSU): Yfull. Good distance, piked throughout, step backwards. 9.750

O’Donnell (Ill): Giant half to Jager to overshoot, no issues, good handstands, problem-free giant full to double tuck, sticks it. 9.925 (10.0/9.85 split)

Mendez-Abolnik (BGSU): Yfull. Big air, cleaner in the air than her teammates by far, small hop. 9.850

Knight (Ill): Giant half to piked Jager, flexed feet, bail, giant full to double tuck and a small hop to the side. 9.850

Jensen (BGSU): Yfull. Great legs together, good block, small step off to the side. 9.800

Takekawa (Ill): Giant half to piked Jager, bail, perfect form so far, double layout dismount and sticks! 9.950 (9.9/10.0 split)

Rotation 2: Bowling Green 48.950, Illinois 48.925

After Rotation 2: Illinois 98.400, Bowling Green 97.375

A bit of a bummer for the Illini to count a fall after the historic start to the meet, but mustering a near-49 with a fall thanks to some generous scoring allows them to stay on track for a possible 197 and overall helpful score in terms of NQS. However, Illinois cannot afford many huge issues from here on out.

The Falcons did well on vault, putting forth their first full lineup of Yurchenko fulls and earned a season-high in the process. Bowling Green is also on track for a solid score and with an error-free performance could even push for a season-best team total. Also, Bowling Green was able to cut away at Illinois’ lead ever so slightly.

Rotation 3: Illinois Beam, Bowling Green Floor

Borden (Ill): Looking to finish her senior night on a much better note. Front aerial to FHS to a leap, slow but kept moving, nice full turn, back walkover into some fun choreo, beat jump to sheep jump, confident, front full dismount, slide forward. 9.825

Mendez-Abolnik (BGSU): Opens up with a double pike, great landing, switch side to Popa, a bit of flexed feet, front layout front full, slightly bent knees, closes with a double tuck, no issues. 9.750

Mizuki (Ill): Gets underway with a full turn, small check, BHS LOSO, quick snap down of her arms to finish it, switch leap to straddle 3/4, tiniest of adjustments, cat leap to side aerial, dismounts gainer pike, good height. 9.925

Lawrence (BGSU): Starts with a front layout to Rudi, a little out of control, lacked height in her leaps as well as 180 split, ends with a double tuck, stumbles back and falls OOB. 8.850

Mueller (Ill): Starts with a full turn, slight bobble, BHS LOSO, switch leap to switch leap, a little shy of 180, beat jump to front toss, leaned to the side but stayed on, dismounts RO 1.5, goes off screen but looked like a step forward. 9.825

Jensen (BGSU): Mounts with a front double full, looked like she was going to be way short, somehow got it around, switch side to Popa to Popa, closes with a RO 1.5 front layout, missed the punch to the front layout, barely made it around but didn’t fall. 9.325

Townes (Ill): Cat leap to front toss, secure, straddle jump to straddle side, BHS LOSO, full turn, moving confidently, cat leap to side aerial to stuck tuck full dismount. 9.900

Bannister (BGSU): Wolf jump 1.5, solid, double tuck, good height but big cowboy in the tuck, switch side to Popa, fun standing Rufolva-esque element, front layout front full, step forward, finishes with a RO 1.5 front layout. 9.700

Knight (Ill): Candle mount, issue-free, switch leap to sissone, small hesitation, side aerial to BHS, quick check to the side, full turn, beat jump to side somi to tucked full dismount, sticks! 9.850

Harsch (BGSU): Begins with a RO BHS 2.5, a little shy on the twist but just a controlled lunge forward, lacked height on the leap series, a little underrotated as well, front full front pike, ends with a RO 1.5 front layout, just a step back. 9.775

Takekawa (Ill): Starts side aerial BHS, great, full turn, switch leap to straddle side, hangs in her split position, BHS gainer full dismount, legs together and sticks! 10.000!!!

McNamara (BGSU): They only cut to her routine mid-way through, RO BHS 1.5 front layout, no issues, opened with a double pike reportedly, switch side to Popa, shy of rotation slightly, double tuck, chest down slightly. 9.775

Rotation 3: Illinois 49.500, Bowling Green 48.325

After Rotation 3: Illinois 147.900, Bowling Green 145.700

Another incredible rotation for Illinois! If not for the bar mishaps, the Illini might have had us on 198-watch. The quest for another 197 is incredibly attainable now as Illinois has just under a full point of deductions to work with, so it will be up to the Illini to carry this momentum into a good floor rotation to close out the meet.

Bowling Green will be a bit disappointed with that floor rotation in what has typically been its strongest event of the year. It was important for the Falcons to maximize on the big scoring opportunity on their best event and they missed their chance. Beam has been rocky throughout the season, but has been hitting lately which they could surely use tonight to close on a strong note.

Rotation 4: Bowling Green Beam, Illinois Floor

Castiglia (BGSU): Small wobble after her full turn, front toss to BHS, small hesitation so repeated and had a big check, another big check on her triple leap series, dismounts front full, sticks. 9.625

Ewald (Ill): Rudi to LOSO to open, great, split 1.5 jump, switch side to Popa, nice toe point, front full front layout, slightly underrotated but doesn’t make it an issue. 9.875

Mendez-Abolnik (BGSU): Full turn to start, BHS LOSO, very secure, straddle jump to straddle 3/4, nice height, front toss, had to squat to save it, dismounts RO 1.5 and gets the stick! 9.825

Waight (Ill): Mounts with a double pike, good height, slide front foot slide, RO 1.5 front layout, fell, way under, hits her leap series, finishes with a double tuck, underrotated again, lands on her feet but touches her hands on the floor. 8.850

Muir (BGSU): Front tuck mount, no problems, small check on the full turn, one-armed BHS LOSO, check but stays on, cat leap to switch 3/4, fun leap, lean check, front full dismount, hops forward. 9.800

Nataraj (Ill): Starts off with a sissone into the corner, beautiful, front layout Rudi, slides back, chest forward, switch ring to switch half, double tuck, easy lunge. 9.800

Ross (BGSU): Good BHS LOSO to open, front aerial to sissone, small pause between, beat jump to ring jump, check on the full turn, BHS 1.5 dismount, near stick but steps back last-second. 9.750

Mueller (Ill): Huge smile as she starts, big double pike, front layout to front full, good landing, switch half to wolf full, double tuck to close, secure landing. 9.925

Solorzano-Caruso (BGSU): Opens with a full turn, BHS LOSO, solid, switch half to split jump, shy of 180 on the first leap, cat leap to side somi to tucked full dismount, chest slightly down but sticks! 9.900!

Takekawa (Ill): Mounts with a double pike, controls the lunge, RO 1.5 layout half to leap, switch side split full, issue-free throughout, Rudi to split jump, slightly travelled back in the jump. 9.925

Jensen (BGSU): Good full turn to begin, BHS LOSO, steps back with a few big checks but stays on, split jump to straddle 3/4, shy of 180, cat leap to side aerial, BHS 1.5 and gets the stick. 9.600

Knight (Ill): Gets underway with a solid front double full, just some leg form in the air, wolf jump full to switch half, easy, double tuck, finishes the meet out with a RO 1.5 front layout, nice bouncy step forward. 9.925

Rotation 4: Bowling Green 48.900, Illinois 49.450

Final: Illinois 197.350, Bowling Green 194.625

Even with a fall, the Illini win while notching a new season-high! Led by an incredible performance in the all around by Takekawa, Illinois now has a second 197 on its resume that should make them a threat both at regionals and at the Big Ten Championship. While the seniors didn’t fully shine on senior night, their supporting cast found a way to barrel through mistakes and put up enough 9.9s to offset them.

Ultimately, errors on bars and floor plagued the Falcons on a day in which they had the opportunity to put up big scores. Still, with a slew of season-high individual marks and a strong beam lineup to finish the regular season, Bowling Green can carry some momentum into the MAC Championship.

Event Winners

All Around: Takekawa (Illinois) – 39.750

Vault: Simons (Illinois) – 9.950

Bars: Takekawa (Illinois) – 9.950

Beam: Takekawa (Illinois) – 10.000

Floor: Knight (Illinois), Mueller (Illinois), Takekawa (Illinois) – 9.925

Live blog by Brandis Heffner

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