LIVE BLOG: Ann Arbor Regional Round One

Happy meet day, everyone! Today I’m in the Crisler Center covering the first of four meets in the Ann Arbor regional. The action in Ann Arbor all starts today with Illinois and Ball State, and the winner will compete in the second semifinal on Thursday night. 

Illinois is technically the favorite in this meet with the higher NQS and average. The Illini are coming off a sixth-place finish at the Big Ten championship with a 196.700. The week before that, Illinois scored its season-high 197.275. The only problem Illinois may face is with its inconsistency. Now when I say inconsistency, I don’t mean that the Illini are putting up “bad” scores. I mean that they aren’t consistently able to score above the mid-196 range, which may be what it takes to best Ball State, a team that’s scored above 197 multiple times this year. Big scores from stars like Mia Townes and Arielle Ward will be the key to getting the overall score up to where it needs to be to advance to the second round in Ann Arbor. 

Ball State has proven that it can put up big scores this year, but like Illinois, the consistency has been tough. The Cardinals put up a program-high 198.025 at the beginning of the year, but they’ve understandably struggled to get back up to that historic number. A high 196 may be what it takes to advance to round two of this regional, and the Cardinals had to settle for sub-196 a couple times this year. Will today be a big day for Ball State, or will it make some mistakes and get sent home? We’ll have to see! 

Rotation 1: Illinois VT, Ball State UB

Takekawa (UIUC): Nice Yurchenko full, some slightly piked hips in the air but she stuck the landing! 9.775

Sumner (BSU): Mounts on the low bar with a nice handstand. Maloney to Pak combination was good, just some leg separation. A tiny bit short on the last handstand. Toe on blind full to double tuck and has a solid landing! 9.675

Coppola (UIUC): Yurchenko full, looks like she tried to flare it out but ended up piking it down more than Takekawa and has a small step. 9.725

Middleton (BSU): Mounts on the low bar and starts with a Maloney to shootover, she also has some leg separation on both elements. Short on the last handstand but nails the blind full and sticks the double tuck! 9.8

Townes (UIUC): Yurchenko 1.5, is slightly piked in the air but not as much as her teammates, and takes a small hop forward. 9.8

Ruthberg (BSU): Starts off on the high barwith a Rayto bail combination, some slightly flexed feet but her legs were together in the bail! Nice last handstand and takes a hop back on the full in. 9.75

Byrne (UIUC): Nice Yurchenko full, slight pike but not as much as the previous ones and takes a hop back. 9.75

Molina (BSU): Starts her routine on the low bar with a short handstand into a Maloney to Pak. The Pak was pretty low and had some leg separation. Nice double layout just takes a small step forward. 9.75

Mueller (UIUC): Really nice Yurchenko full, much better form in the air and has a small hop on the landing. 9.75

Szymanski (BSU): Really nice blind full to Geinger to bail combination. Nice blind full to double tuck to finish up and she takes a small step on the landing. 9.7

Ward (UIUC): Yurchenko 1.5, some flexed feet in the air and takes a hop back. 9.8

Teter (BSU): Mounts on the high bar with a good handstand. Blind full to a nice high Tkatchev but she catches a bit close. Nice bail down to low bar. Short on her last handstand, blind to a double front with a half and she sticks it! 9.8

After 1: Illinois 48.875, Ball State 48.800

This rotation was a good starting point for both teams, and it’s already a close matchup! Illinois had good landings on vault but gave up some tenths in the air. Ball State also had good landings on bars but missed some handstands and is now down less than a tenth. But both teams have good routines coming up in the second rotation, and I’m expecting a close score halfway through this meet!

Rotation 2: Ball State VT, Illinois UB

Martinez (BSU): Yurchenko full, pikes it down but not as much as we’ve seen today, and a hop back on the landing. 9.75

Mueller (UIUC): Starts on the high bar with a short handstand into a blind to Jaeger. Another short handstand into her shootover. Hits that final handstand and sticks the double layout. The team is excited about that landing! 9.8

Teter (BSU): Front handspring pike, some flexed feet in the air and a very large hop forward. 9.675

Denning (UIUC): Mounts on the low bar and starts with a Maloney to shootover, some very slight leg separation but not much at all. Really holds that last handstand and takes a step back on the double layout. 9.75

Middleton (BSU): Yurchenko full, she twists off the table a bit early but her landing was very nice, maybe just a hop in place. 9.825

Knight (UIUC): Starts her routine on the low bar with a toe on to Maloney to shootover combination, absolutely picture perfect form there. Nice last handstand, and she sticks the gorgeous double layout! That was a great routine. 9.85

Pfister (BSU): Front pike half, she got some really good height and her landing was great as well! Maybe the tiniest shuffle backwards. 9.9

Ewald (UIUC): Mounts on the high bar, nice blind to Jaeger. Next is a Pak down to low, some leg separation towards the end of the skill. Good final handstand and takes a step back on the full in. 9.75

Ruthberg (BSU): Yurchenko full, very clean at the beginning but pikes towards the end and takes a tiny hop on the landing. 9.8

Takekawa (UIUC): Starts on the high bar with a beautiful handstand. Blind to piked Jaeger was nice. Beautiful shootover, her legs were glued together. She’s nailed every one of these handstands. And she sticks the landing! The team is chanting for a 10, and I definitely think that should go above 9.9. And it’s a 9.9!

Henry (BSU): Yurchenko 1.5, good form in the air and takes a step forward. 9.825

Saltness (UIUC): Mounts up on the high bar and starts with a Ray, some slightly flexed feet there. Beautiful Pak down to low. A bit short on her last handstand and she was over on her blind full, and she underrotates and falls on the double tuck. 9.175

After 2: Illinois 97.925, Ball State 97.900

Although Illinois finished off bars with a fall, it still had five good scores ahead of it. Ball State had some high-flying vaults, including a big 9.900 from Suki Pfister. The Illini had a 9.900 of their own from Mia Takekawa. Hopefully the Illini don’t bring the fall with them to beam and leave that energy on bars. It’s still a close one after two!

Rotation 3: Illinois BB, Ball State FX 

Townes (UIUC): Very nice switch leap straddle quarter to start, she shows off great flexibility. Cat leap to side aerial, very solid landing. Flic lay, tiniest shoulder drop at the end but she recovers well. Tiny wobble on the full turn as well, but I’m being picky. Finishes up with a roundoff tucked 1.5 and she sticks it! What a great leadoff for Illinois! 9.8

Ruthberg (BSU): First pass is a front tuck through to double tuck, she jumps into her lunge instead of stepping but it was controlled. Next is a double pike, I love her pointed feet throughout but she did step forward into that lunge. Switch ring to switch half was nice. She finishes up with a Rudi to a nice high split jump. Another great leadoff routine! 9.8

Knight (UIUC): Starts off with a candlestick mount, very pretty. Switch leap, split leap, beat jump, very good split positions there. Gorgeous side aerial to back handspring series, solid landing as well. Really good side sumi, solid like everything else has been. Finishes up with a beautiful side gainer full and she sticks it! 9.85

Martinez (BSU): Starts with a double tuck, her chest was low on the landing and she lunged forward. Nice switch side half, good straddle positions. Next is a back 1.5 to front half to switch jump, solid overall. Last pas is a front layout front full, she looks a bit unsure on the landing and steps back. Ball State will have to drop that score with the way Illinois is hitting beam. 9.675

Byrne (UIUC): Another pretty candlestick mount to start this routine. Flic lay series, some flexed feet and a small wobble at the end. Nice straddle jump. Beat jump to sheep jump, another wobble there. Roundoff double full dismount, she fights for the stick but ends up hopping forward. 9.7

Pfister (BSU): First pass is a really high double tuck with a very solid landing! Beautiful switch side Popa wolf full, great height on that leap pass as well. Next is a front handspring front layout front pike, that pike really rises. Last pass is a double pike, her front foot slid back as she lunged. Great routine! 9.8

Mueller (UIUC): Wobbles on the full turn to start her routine, hopefully she can leave that behind her. Flic lay, big leg up wobble but she saves it. Switch leap switch leap, a bit shy of 180 and another wobble. Beat jump to front toss, much more solid landing there. Dismounts with a roundoff 1.5 and she sticks it! Way to finish up strong! 9.75 seems a bit high for all those wobbles, especially with how the other routines were scored.

Teter (BSU): Starts with a front layout to Rudi, she lands kind of low and lunges forward. Nice double tuck next, much better landing there, very controlled. Nice tour jete. Her last pass is a front full front layout, nice form and nice control to finish the routine! 9.75

Ewald (UIUC): One arm back handspring to back handspring, very clean form and solid on the landing. Switch leap to layout stepout, clean form again but a small wobble that time. Split jump, standing switch, straddle quarter, she’s a bit shy of 180 on some of those jumps. Finishes with a gainer Rudi dismount and takes a small hop. 9.8

Middleton (BSU): First pass is a super high double tuck, is a bit bouncy into her lunge but overall very good. Next up is a front layout front full, she was more controlled on that landing. Tour jete half to split full was very nice, very straight legs throughout. Finishes up with a double pike and nails that landing as well. 9.8

Takekawa (UIUC): Side aerial back handspring she she falls, she was struggling with that in warm up. Switch leap to layout stepout, small wobble in between the two. Finishes with a stuck back handspring gainer full. Luckily the Illini already have five solid scores. 9.25

Henry (BSU): Starts off with a front tuck through to double tuck, she opens at the perfect time and nails the landing. Really nice switch side to Popa, she goes above 180. Next is a front layout front full, good form and landing there. Last pass is a double pike, she lands a bit short and lunges forward. 9.75

After 3: Illinois 146.825, Ball State 146.800

Similar to bars, Illinois had five solid routines and then finished with a fall. It’s a shame that the fall came from Mia Takekawa, because the Illini could’ve used a big score from her to extend the gap between them and the Cardinals. Ball State showed off some great floor routines but were sometimes unable to finish strong with the last passes. The gap between these teams is as small as it can be, will Illinois keep its lead or will Ball State pull through in the last rotation?

Rotation 4: Ball State BB, Illinois FX

Henry (BSU): Switch leap to straddle three quarter, nice flexibility. Flic lay, some slightly bent legs but a solid landing. Slight wobble on the full turn. Nice front toss, wobbles at the end. Dismounts with a back handspring to back 1.5 and takes a step back. 9.725

Ward (UIUC): First pass is a front layout front full front pike, great height on each element and she stuck it, didn’t even need to lunge! Switch half to wolf 1.5 was good. Nice double pike, just lunges forward instead of back. 9.775

Middleton (BSU): Switch leap switch leap to split jump, maybe a bit shy of 180 from my angle. Very solid flic lay next. Cat leap to side aerial, solid landing there. Wobbles on the full turn but turns and dances out of it. Sticks the tucked front full dismount! 9.85

Mueller (UIUC): Starts her routine with a front tuck through to double tuck, nice height and a good controlled landing. Nice switch full. Next is a front layout front full, she stepped a bit crooked on that landing. Switch half to wolf full was good. 9.8

Szymanski (BSU): Nice flic lay to start out, maybe some slightly flexed feet. Good cartwheel, she looks very confident. Nice switch leap, looks like she was supposed to connect but decided against it. Switch half to split jump, just the tiniest wobble. Finishes with a roundoff 1.5 with a tiny hop forward. The crowd is getting louder in this final rotation! 9.725

Morgan (UIUC): Starts with a double tuck with a nice controlled lunge. Tour jete half to wolf 1.5 was nice. Next pass is a front layout front full, another solid landing but some slightly flexed feet. 9.775

Teter (BSU): Front tuck mount, leg up wobble but she saves it quickly. Flic lay series, some bent knees throughout. Beat jump to straddle three quarter, flexed feet there. Dismounts with a stuck front full. 9.7

Byrne (UIUC): First pass is a 2.5 to front tuck, she opened at the right time for that front tuck and had a great landing! Beautiful switch side to Popa. Nice double pike, just some flexed feet and lunges forward. 9.8

Ruthberg (BSU): Flic lay flic series, bent knees throughout and a wobble on the landing. Really nice switch leap switch leap to split jump, great split positions. Finishes with a cartwheel to gainer full and she sticks it. 9.775

Fitzgibbon (UIUC): Starts with a front layout to Rudi, she pikes it down and steps sideways. Switch side to split full, a bit shy of 180 on the split full. Really high double pike but lands with a low chest and lunges forward. 9.725

Sumner (BSU): Beautiful side aerial to back handspring and she nails the landing. Gorgeous front aerial to beat jump. Switch leap to split jump, great flexibility. Small wobble on the full turn. And she sticks the roundoff 1.5! Great routine to finish off the meet for Ball State! 9.85

Townes (UIUC): Starts off with a really pretty Rudi to straddle jump, great form in that Rudi! Next pass is a back 1.5 to front full, she steps into that lunge with great control. Nice wolf 1.5. Beautiful tour jete half to split full. That was a great routine and should probably win the meet for Illinois! 9.85

Final: Illinois 195.825, Ball State 195.775

Well, just as expected, this was a close one! Ball State fought hard to the end and finished its season with a gorgeous beam routine from Grace Sumner, but Mia Townes delivered on the final floor routine for the Illini and won the meet for her team. Illinois will compete in session two of the second round tomorrow!

Event Winners:

Vault: Pfister, 9.900

Bars: Takekawa, 9.900

Beam: Knight, Middleton, Sumner; 9.850

Floor: Townes, 9.850

All Around: Middleton, 39.275

READ THIS NEXT: 2024 Ann Arbor Regional Preview

Live Blog by Emily Lockard

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