Illinois Fighting Illini
The Fighting Illini women’s gymnastics team has been a mainstay in the Big Ten conference and has qualified to the NCAA regionals every year since 2004. The program also sends individuals to nationals on a regular basis. The team won the Big Ten title in 1990 and counts 13 individual conference champions. The Illini have advanced to the NCAA National Championships four times — in 2009 where they finished 12th, and in 2011, 2013 and 2014 where they finished 11th. The 2015 season was capped off by a second-place finish at the Big Ten Championship with a school-record score of 197.350. This finish was the highest since 2009. In 2016, the Illini faced a lot of adversity after losing their two best gymnasts, All-Americans Gianna O’Connor and Mary Jane Horth, to season-ending injuries. The team finished eighth at the Big Ten Championship and advanced to NCAA regionals. The Illini missed qualifying to nationals for the second year in a row, but freshman Lizzy LeDuc was able to make it as an individual on the floor exercise. LeDuc was the first Illini freshman to qualify individually for the NCAAs since 2008. Other successful former gymnasts include Alina Weinstein, Allison Buckley, Melissa Fernandez and 1972 U.S. Olympian Nancy Thies.