Illini Start Season with 413.100-393.450 Win at UIC
Jan. 12, 2014
CHICAGO - Thanks to stand-out performances from three freshmen making their collegiate debuts, the Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team opened its season with a 413.100-393.450 victory over UIC Sunday afternoon at the Physical Education Building. Despite using a scaled back lineup in the opener, six Orange and Blue gymnasts captured event titles, while freshman Chandler Eggleston led the way with a win in floor exercise and vault.
"Competing at fifty percent, the guys did exactly what we asked them to do," head coach Justin Spring said. "There were some stand-out moments, and there were some missteps, but in general it was a good way to start out the season."
Illinois started the day on pommel horse, sweeping the top five spots individually to post a team score of 68.900. Sophomore Logan Bradley took the title with a 14.150. Bradley was followed by senior Chad Mason in second with a 14.000, freshman Matt Foster in third with a 13.700, sophomore Jacob Tilsley in fourth with a 13.650 and freshman Tom Gibbs in fifth with a 13.400.
"Pommel Horse was a tough event," said Spring. "Logan was a Big Ten finalist and proved that he's going to be a consistent competitor in an inconsistent event."
In the second rotation, the Illini notched a 68.500 on floor and took the top two spots. Freshman Chandler Eggleston earned his first event title with a score of 15.00. Fellow newcomer Matt Foster placed second with 14.200.
On vault, Illinois secured a 71.250, led again by Eggleston, who placed first with a 15.250. Reigning Big Ten and NCAA Champion Fred Hartville took second with a score of 14.750.
In the following rotation, the Illini swept the top five on rings, combining for a team score of 71.450. Junior Mike Wilner won his 8th rings title with 15.400, placing him in the top 10 all-time record holders. Jordan Valdez took second with a 14.450, followed by Cameron Rogers (14.250), Tom Gibbs (13.850), and Doug Blanton (13.500) in third, fourth, and fifth place, respectively.
On high bar, Illinois claimed two of the top three spots and totaled a team score of 64.300. Junior Jordan Valdez won the title with a 14.350, followed by Eggleston who took third with a score of 13.550.
Illinois ended with a 68.700 on parallel bars, paced by Rogers, who placed first with a 14.450. Gibbs came in a close second with 14.250.
Freshman Tom Gibbs won the all-around with a score of 82.550 after placing in the top five of five events.
"I think this was a good test for our team," Spring said. "The guys brought intensity and we're excited to be back at full strength next weekend for Windy City."
The Orange and Blue will return to Chicago next weekend for the annual Windy City Invitational, hosted by UIC on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. CT.