Senior Yoshi Mori won his second pommel horse title of the season on Saturday night.
Jan. 19, 2013
CHICAGO - The reigning NCAA champion and second-ranked Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team tied for second at the 43rd annual Windy City Invitational Saturday night at the UIC Physical Education Building. The Orange and Blue posted a 427.750 to tie Ohio State, finishing just behind Michigan (431.300). Minnesota placed fourth with a 425.750, followed by Iowa (422.350) and host UIC (401.600).
Senior Yoshi Mori, who is coming off a preseason injury, led the Illini with a win on pommel horse and a third-place finish in the all-around.
"The way the preseason went and the injuries that we've just gotten cleared meant that the expectation for this meet was not to go out and have a tremendous performance," head coach Justin Spring said. "We wanted to go out and compete strong, and we did. We competed at the level we expected. It's good to know that we are still in a great position after some of the setbacks we've had."
The Illini began the evening on pommel horse, where they earned a 73.950 and captured four of the top 10 spots individually to win the event by more than three points as a team. Mori notched his second pommel horse crown of the season with a career-high 15.350. Freshman Logan Bradley placed fifth with a 14.950, followed by junior Chad Mason in sixth with a 14.800 and redshirt freshman Jacob Tilsley in 10th with a 14.600.
On rings, Illinois finished third as a team with a 71.850, led by sophomore Mike Wilner, who posted a 14.800 to finish third. Freshman Joey Peters also cracked the top 10, finishing ninth with a 14.450.
In the third rotation, the Illini struggled on vault, posting a 71.000 to place fifth as a team. Junior Alex Varga and Mori were the top finishers for the Orange and Blue, tying for 10th with a score of 14.550.
Illinois rebounded in the following rotation, earning the highest team score on parallel bars with a 71.900. Four Illini finished in the top 10 once again, paced by freshman Joey Peters in second with a 14.950. Junior Cameron Rogers took fourth with a 14.600. Mori placed ninth with a 14.400, just edging junior Jordan Valdez, who finished 10th with a 14.300.
The Illini had a quiet night on high bar, posting the fifth-highest team score with a 67.000. Valdez highlighted the event for the Orange and Blue, placing second with a 14.850.
Illinois ended the night on floor with a 72.050 to finish fourth on that apparatus. Varga led the Illini floor squad with a runner-up finish and a career-best 15.250 in the squad's final performance of the meet.
Mori placed third in the all-around with an 85.700. Peters followed in fourth with an 83.050, while senior Austin Phillips placed sixth with an 80.950
"I'm really proud of the way Yoshi stepped up for us today," Spring said. "He is fast and explosive but breaks down easily and has a lot of setbacks and injuries here and there, but when you put him in a meet situation, he is a gamer. He handles pressure like a veteran. He hadn't completed or done vey many of his routines at all this season because of his injury, but he hit them when it really counted."
The competition marks Illinois' second straight runner-up finish in the Windy City Invitational. Ohio State edged the 2012 NCAA championship squad in last season's meet.
The Orange and Blue will return to action next weekend at the Metroplex Challenge, which will take place Jan. 25 in Dallas.