Valdez took home the high bar title
Jan. 18, 2014
CHICAGO - seventh-ranked Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team tied for second at the 44th annual Windy City Invitational Saturday night at the UIC Physical Education Building. The Orange and Blue posted a 436.050 to tie Ohio State, finishing just behind Michigan (437.500). Minnesota placed fourth with a 424.800, followed by Iowa (417.700) and host UIC (395.500).
Redshirt sophomore C.J. Maestas led the Illini, tying for the rings title with a score of 15.500 and placing second on floor with a 15.000.
"CJ was great for his first meet back," said head coach Justin Spring. "His biggest contribution is leadership. He's like an army general that leads the charge and sets the tone for the team. He gets everyone riled up. Having him back helps this young, hungry team."
The Illini began the evening on pommel horse, where they earned a 71.000 and captured three of the top 10 spots individually. Cole Smith topped his season high on pommel horse, scoring 14.500 and placing seventh. Senior Chad Mason and freshman Matt Foster tied for tenth with a score of 14.400.
On rings, Illinois finished second as a team with 72.500, led by RS sophomore Maestas, who posted a 15.500 to tie for the title. Senior Cameron Rogers tied for ninth place with a score of 14.600, topping his score from last week.
In the third rotation, the Illini placed second on vault, posting a 75.050 as a team. Reigning NCAA and Big Ten vault champion Fred Hartville came in second with a score of 15.500. Hartville was followed by freshman Chandler Eggleston in third (15.200).
Illinois placed second again in the following rotation, earning the score on parallel bars of 73.600. Four Illini finished in the top 10, paced by sophomore Joey Peters in fourth with a 15.000. Senior Jordan Valdez followed closely in fifth is a 14.950. Freshman Max Mayer and senior Rogers rounded out the top ten placing in eighth (14.700) and tenth (14.650), respectively.
The Illini had a quiet night on high bar, posting the fourth-highest team score with a 71.100. Valdez highlighted the event for the Orange and Blue, taking the title with a 54.450.
Illinois shined on the floor, posting the highest team score of 72.800. Eggleston took his second floor title of the year with a score of 15.150. Maestas was not far behind in second, posting a 15.000.
The Orange and Blue took two more spots in the top ten, freshman Thomas Gibbs placing sixth (14.550) and senior Alex Varga taking ninth (14.400).
"I'm really excited to start a great season with this team," Spring said. "They're passionate and compete with fire. I think the guys are excited about the finish, but if you look at the numbers mistakes were made."
The competition marks Illinois' third straight runner-up finish in the Windy City Invitational. Michigan has edged out the Illini for two years in a row.
The Orange and Blue will return to action next weekend against Ohio State on Jan. 26. The meet will take place in Huff Hall, at 2 p.m. and will be televised by BTN.