NCAA Bound

April 15, 2009

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Two squads and six individual event specialists will head to Lincoln, Neb., to represent the Big Ten Conference at the NCAA Championships, hosted by the University of Nebraska on April 16-18. Illinois is making its NCAA Championships debut this weekend after finishing second at the West Regional on April 5. Penn State will accompany the Fighting Illini at the event, making its first appearance at nationals since 2005 and 15th overall (7th as a Big Ten Conference member). The Nittany Lions finished second in the Southeast Regional behind top-ranked Georgia. The two teams will join 10 other squads at the Bob Devaney Sports Center to vie for the NCAA team title. Illinois enters the competition as the 11th seed, with Penn State earning the 12th seed in the 12-team field.

Six Big Ten individuals also qualified for this year’s NCAA Championships in Illinois’ Allison Buckley (beam), Michigan’s Becky Bernard (uneven bars), Kylee Botterman (floor exercise) and Sarah Curtis (all-around), Ohio State’s Rebecca Best (all-around) and Penn State’s Brandi Personett (all-around).  To qualify, the six specialists either placed first in their individual event or posted one of the top two all-around scores (from individuals not advancing to nationals with a team) at their respective regional sites.

Preliminary team and all-around competition will be conducted in two sessions Thursday, April 16 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. (CT). The top three teams from each session will advance to the Super Six competition Friday, April 17 at 6 p.m. (CT). The top four individuals from each session in each event (plus ties) from the preliminary team and all-around competition will compete in the individual-event competition Saturday, April 18 at 6 p.m. (CT). Penn State will compete in Thursday’s afternoon session, with Illinois set to compete in the evening.

The 12-team field includes defending national champion Georgia as well as challengers from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA and Utah along with the nation’s top all-arounders and individual event specialists.