Giana Gerdes performs on beam.

LIVE BLOG: No. 20 Illinois at No. 19 Minnesota

Greetings from Maturi Pavilion, where I am coming to you live and in person for this exciting Big Ten matchup. This has the potential to be a very close meet with the Gophers and Illini sitting just a half-tenth apart in their average score for the season (not to mention right next to each other in the rankings).

The Illini are coming off of a big win against Nebraska, where they put up a season-best 196.700 to defeat the Huskers by nearly a full point. They also arrive at this matchup 2-0 in the Big Ten (the jury is still out on what last week’s tie means for Minnesota and Iowa). The rotation to watch for Illinois will be right out of the gate on bars, which has been a bit of a sticking point so far this season. If the team can put up a clean rotation, it will be setting itself on the right path for a potential upset.

The Gophers also put up their best score of the season last week at 196.875—improving most notably on beam—which continues to be a bit of a hurdle for this squad. That being said, freshman Brooklyn Rowray had a breakout routine here last week with a 9.900, so expect to see her playing a big role in this lineup moving forward. Minnesota has been relatively solid on the other three events, so it will be looking for a clean rotation on beam to start boosting that overall score.

Mia Takeawa is the favorite for the all around—she is currently ranked third in the Big Ten and 17th overall—but don’t sleep on sophomore Giana Gerdes for the Gophers. Gerdes has been quietly improving week after week and could put up some competition here.

Some updates now that I’m in the building:

It appears Rowray will be sitting out of lineups today, which is semi-surprising after her 9.900 effort on beam last week. I am keeping an eye out for her to see if she appears to be injured.

It is also alumni day, so we’ve got some star Gopher alums in the building tonight.

Okay, the Minnesota entrance video is awesome, and a fun fact: it was created by junior Ella Sirjord.

Rowray is in a boot — unsure if it is precautionary or not.

Rotation 1: Minnesota vault, Illinois bars

Johnson (MIN): FTY, bent knees and hands down. 8.875

Ward (UIUC): Blind to jaeger, some flexed feet, to overshoot with some leg sep. VERY floaty double arabian dismount. 9.775

Slight delay with judges conference over Johnson’s score.

Moraw (MIN): Big FTY, good landing, landed slightly over the line though. 9.850

Borden (UIUC): straddle jaeger to overshoot. Good final HS. Blind to rudi dismount, that’s fun. hard to see if the landing was stuck from my angle. 9.775

Remlinger (MIN): Tucked Y1.5 (flexed feet) with a hop forward. 9.875

Mizuki (UIUC): Beautiful first HS. Blind change to piked jaeger, catches very close but saves it. Look at those pointed toes. Blind full to double back dismount, tiny hop. 9.700

Gerdes (MIN): Y1.5, great form in the air. Too much power and a bounds forward. That is a promising vault, though if she can get it under control. 9.725

O’Donnell (UIUC): Blind to straddle jaeger, beautiful feet and surprisingly far away from the bar — impressed she caught that. Blind full to double back dismount, solid.

Quarles (MIN): Y1.5, her usual beautiful form, step forward. 9.875

Takekawa (UIUC): Slightly shy on first HS. Blind to jaeger looked sharp. Bail to HS beautiful. DLO dismount with a hop. 9.800

Hooten (MIN): Y1.5, stuck. and that is a 10. Wait – 9.975. I swear they showed two 10s originally.

Mueller (UIUC): this is a last minute change. Straddle jaeger, some feet. Bail to HS a little short. Arches way over on final HS but saves it. DLO dismount, form loose in the air with a hop.

Ex: Grotenhuis (MIN): FTY, pretty good form in the air, not a ton of distance.

Ex: Green (UIUC): Missed most of this due to being blocked.

Ex: Jencks (MIN): Pretty FTY

Ex: Ewald (UIUC): Pretty set from Ewald as well, hard to see her but looks like she had a tiny step on her FTDT dismount.

After 1: Minnesota 49.300, Illinois 48.850

Weird start from Johnson on vault, but the Gophers recovered quickly to put up a solid set. Gerdes needs to get the power of her 1.5 under control but once she does the back half of that lineup is looking real promising with fellow solid 1.5s from Remlinger, Quarles and Hooten.

Bars continues to be a bit of a problem area for Illinois, but there is some real beauty there too. Mizuki, Takekawa and O’Donnell especially put up some gorgeous routines.

Rotation 2: Minnesota bars, Illinois vault

Mueller (UIUC): FTY, hop back, loose knees in the air. 9.775

Johnson (MIN): Maloney good, some small leg sep. Bail to HS clean. Beautiful form on last HS. Had to muscle it a big in her stadler to toe front half, good landing.

Takekawa (UIUC): FTY, clean form, small hop. 9.775

Gerdes (MIN): Beautiful maloney, lots of power. Some leg separation on her bail to HS. Arch last HS, stuck FTDT dismount. 9.850

Byrne (UIUC): FTY, solid landing with a slight bounce. 9.750

Jencks (MIN): Toe on jaeger, shy on her HS. Bail to HS sharp. DLO dismount, stuck. 9.850

Nataraj (UIUC): FTY, good power but still takes a decent sized hop forward. 9.700

Remlinger (MIN): Slight arch on the first HS but finesses it nicely. Bail to HS sharp. FTDT dismount, small hop. 9.825

Townes (UIUC): Y1.5, knees a little bent and sits a little low on landing with a hop back. 9.725

Sales (MIN): Bail to HS clean. Markelov lovely as always. DLO dismount with a step forward.

Ward (UIUC): Big FTY. She was warming up 1.5s, so I was curious to see what she’d do here. 9.825

Hooten (MIN): Blind to jaeger to overshoot, lovely. Shy on final HS. Big FTDT dismount with a small hop. 9.875

Ex: Fitzgibbon (UIUC): FTY, some form issues in the air, small hop.

Ex: LeNeave (MIN): Big tkatchev. Bail to HS pretty clean. Shy of 180 on final HS. FTDT dismount really close to the bar.

Ex: Waight (UIUC): Yurchenko half, good form, small hop.

Ex: Horak (MIN): I did not catch her set.

After 2: Minnesota 98.475, Illinois 97.700

Lots of little mistakes and form issues for Illinois that are really letting Minnesota pull away with the lead after two. The Gophers were pretty solid on bars–not their best showing, with no scores cracking 9.900–but no major errors either.

Rotation 3: Minnesota beam, Illinois floor

Pearl (MIN): Full turn to start. BHS LOSO, bent knees but solid. Cat leap, slight balance check, switch side, big balance check. Front aerial to beat jump, good. BHS, gainer full dismount, step back. 9.500 (this was adjusted down from a 9.600)

Takekawa (UIUC): Opens with rudi to split, travels quite a bit on the split. RO double pike, good control. Finishes RO 1.5 to front lay, good landing. 9.800

Koch (MIN): Good control on full turn. BHS LOSO, lovely. Beat jump straddle 3/4 legs shy of 180. Front toss to scale looked good. RO 1.5 dismount, small hop. 9.775

Waight (UIUC): Opens with RO BHS double pike, controlled lunge. RO 1.5 front lay, some leg sep. I have people standing in front of me so I cannot see her but I assume she did some leaps. Finishes with a RO double back with slight bounce on landing. 9.775

Hooten (MIN): Candle mount, front aerial to BHS, slight pause in the middle so I’m not sure what they’ll do with that connection. Beat to straddle 3/4, slight bobble. Overall she looks a little nervy, but no big mistakes. RO 1.5 dismount, stuck. Overall very good set for her. 9.825

Joelson (UIUC): Double pike to open, kind of a weird hop on the landing. RO 1.5 front lay, good. Finishes with double back, good control on landing. 9.775

Johnson (MIN):  Front toss, loses balance and is off the beam. Repeating the skill. Kickover front, leg up, she isn’t going to be able to get that connection. Switch side, another balance check. Barani, Finishes with front full, stuck. 8.600

Byrne (UIUC): Beautiful opening pass. Had some people blocking view in the middle there. Final pass big double back, lands slightly forward and takes a step. 9.725

Slight delay, again over Johnson’s score.

Gerdes (MIN):  Front aerial, sharp. BHS LOSO, slight balance check but tries to cover. Split jump, double stag. BHS gainer full dismount, stuck. 9.850

Mueller (UIUC): Opens with double pike, good control on the landing. Front lay front full. Switch half wolf full, sharp landing. Finishes with double back and steps out of bounds. 9.600

Moraw (MIN): Full turn to start. BHS LOSO, super solid, big smile. Beat jump straddle 3/4, good control.  Front aerial to beat jump, loses balance in the middle which carries over to landing on beat jump but manages to control it. Gainer full dismount, good. 9.700

Townes (UIUC): FHS double full, controlled lunge out. Okay, her choreo is very fun. Pulling in this crowd for sure. RO 1.5 front full, good. Leap series also looked controlled. 9.875

Ex: Sales (MIN): BHS BHS LOSO, solid. Big balance check on her switch side. Gainer pike dismount, good.

Ex: Nataraj (UIUC): Opens with a full in, nice. 

Ex: Sirjord (MIN): Candle mount to start. BHS LOSO, solid. Switch to double stag controlled. BHS gainer full dismount. Big hugs from teammates.

Ex: Knight (UIUC): Sits down on her opening pass. Wolf full to split, legs a little shy of 180. Rest of routine looked solid.

After 3: Minnesota 147.125, Illinois 146.650

Rotation 4: Minnesota floor, Illinois beam

Knight (UIUC): Well that was a fun mount series. Switch to leap, legs a little shy.  Side aerial to BHS, good. Side somi was controlled. Gainer full with small hop back. 9.850

Jencks (MIN): Minnesota fans already on their feet for Gophers on floor. Opens with a solid front double full. Little bouncy on her leap series. Second pass 1.5 to front lay, good control. Finishes with a nice rudi.

Mizuki (UIUC): Little balance check on her full turn. BHS LOSO, controlled. Switch to straddle 1/4, good. Cat leap to side aerial. Gainer pike dismount, stuck. 9.775

LeNeave (MIN): Double pike to open, looks like her back foot went out of bounds. Switch half to wolf 1/2. RO 1.5 second pass was good. Finishes with double back, legs a little cowboyed. 9.725

Nataraj (UIUC): BHS LOSO,  soft knees. Switch to straddle quarter, great leg position. Beat jump to front aerial, controlled. RO 1.5 dismount, soft knees again but good landing. 9.850

Gerdes (MIN): Opens with punch front through to double back, good. Pretty ring position on her leap series. Double pike to finish, good form. I think Gerdes might have my favorite choreography from this lineup. 9.875

Mueller (UIUC): BHS LOSO, slow and controlled. Switch leap, balance check. Switch leap to straddle quarter, repeats to get connection. Front toss. RO 1.5, works for stick but does stick it. 9.725

Johnson (MIN): Wolf full to start. Front full to rudi opening pass. Sky high double back to finish. Nice to see her so solid here after some uncharacteristic mistakes from her earlier. 9.875

Townes (UIUC): Switch to straddle quarter, good control. Cat leap to front toss, big balance check and grabs the beam. BHS LOSO, soft knees but controlled. RO 1.5, looked almost tucked in position though. 9.575

Remlinger (MIN): Opens with big full in, flexed feet but good. Good control on leap series. RO 1.5 front full, beautiful. Finishes with a strong double back. Great routine. 9.950

Takekawa (UIUC): Side aerial to back LOSO, lovely. Full turn good control. Switch to straddle quarter, great leg position. BHS  gainer full, stuck. 9.925

Hooten (MIN): She truly commands the crowd’s attention. Opens with beautiful full in. Switch side popa, good leg position and controlled landing. Front full to front pike, SO FLOATY and stuck. Finishes with a double back, sky high and controlled landing. Lots of 10 chants. And she gets it.

Exhibition routines from Byrne, Borden, Pearl and Sales.

FINAL: Minnesota 196.675, Illinois 195.775

VT: Mya Hooten, 9.975
UB: Mya Hooten, 9.875
BB: Mia Takekawa, 9.925
FX: Mya Hooten, 10.00
AA: Mya Hooten, 39.675

READ THIS NEXT: Nadalie Walsh Wants to Elevate Illinois. Mia Takekawa’s Perfect 10 Is an Early Sign It’s Working.

Live blog by Kalley Leer

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