Women's Gymnastics Holds Own In Defeat To Illinois

Sophomore Veronique Meunier earned her first all-around title of the season with a score of 38.525 on Saturday night.
Sophomore Veronique Meunier earned her first all-around title of the season with a score of 38.525 on Saturday night.

Jan. 17, 2004

Chicago, Ill.- After a disappointing performance in their first meet of the season at the Arkansas Quadrangular, the University of Illinois at Chicago women's gymnastics team was ready to show that their early-season jitters were out of their system.

If Saturday night's home opener versus Illinois was any indication, most of those jitters stayed in Fayetteville.

The Flames hung tough with their Big Ten sister school, losing a close 193.025-192.750 battle to the Fighting Illini in front of over 500 fans at the UIC PEB.

UIC (0-4) took the Illini (2-0) down to the wire, trailing by only one-tenth of a point in the overall team standings with only two routines to go.

With Illinois up 182.450-182.350 after four routines in the final rotation, the Flames sent juniors Alyson Cacciatore and Jackie Jaworowicz, two of their best athletes in the floor exercise, to the mat in hopes of taking the lead.

Cacciatore and Jaworowicz did their part, scoring a 9.8 and a 9.850, respectively, on the floor. But the Illini were up to the task, using senior Kara Kapernekas' 9.875 on the balance beam to hold off the UIC rally.

Jaworowicz's 9.850 earned her the floor exercise event victory, while Kapernekas took the balance beam (9.875) and uneven bars (9.850) titles. Illinois' Danye Botterman won the vault title at 9.850.

Sophomore Veronique Meunier scored first in the all-around, taking the title with a final tally of 38.525. Jaworowicz followed in second with a score of 38.325, while Cacciatore sealed the Flames' sweep of the Top Three with an all-around finish of 38.275.

The bars gave the Flames the most trouble. Jaworowicz was strong on the apparatus until her rough landing helped drop her score to 9.175, and both Meunier and Jennifer O'Neil, who each turned in outstanding vaults, took turns struggling on the bars.



Saturday's meet also featured a special recognition of past Flames standouts as part of Alumni Homecoming activities. Former UIC gymnastics standouts Emily McKee-Keating, Laura Jungels, Atlin Mitchell and others were honored before the competition and stayed to cheer on the 2004 edition of UIC women's gymnastics.

McKee-Keating, who still shares two school records, took part in the ceremonial "Lighting of the Flame" in honor of her induction into the UIC Athletics Hall of Fame next weekend.

The UIC women's gymnastics team will return to action next Friday, January 23rd, when they travel to Gainesville, Fla., to take on Florida, North Carolina State and Michigan State at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center at 6 p.m.