Men's Gymnastics
#6 Illini Finish Third at Metroplex Challenge

Jordan Valdez picked up his second high bar title of the season on Friday night.
Jordan Valdez picked up his second high bar title of the season on Friday night.

Jan. 26, 2013


FORT WORTH, Texas - The reigning NCAA champion and sixth-ranked University of Illinois men's gymnastics team finished third late Friday night at the Metroplex Challenge, scoring a 428.300. No. 4 Oklahoma took the crown with a 441.500, followed by No. 5 Ohio State in second (429.400) and No. 8 Iowa in fourth (422.750). Texas A&M's club team placed fifth, and a team of Texas collegiate all-stars placed sixth.

"In a way, the message to the team after this is that we competed the way we've been practicing," head coach Justin Spring said. "We were just over 50 percent in our hit ratio, which is not good. With that said, we were putting in routines from previously injured guys with very few numbers under their belts. We've had a really tough grind since the season opener, and now we've got three weeks of training before our next meet. If these guys can get the numbers in and commit to what we need to do, we will come out a completely different team when we host Iowa in February."

Freshman Joey Peters and junior Jordan Valdez highlighted the night for the Orange and Blue, taking home individual titles. Peters won the all-around for the second time in three meets, while Valdez claimed his second high bar win of the season with a 15.050, just missing his career-high score by one hundredth of a point.

"Joey is getting the numbers in and will emerge to be one of the best freshman and one of our heavy contributors on five events," Spring said. "I'm really proud of Joey's competitiveness once again."

The Illini will send individual gymnasts to compete for national titles and spots on the U.S. senior national team at the U.S. Winter Cup Challenge, Feb. 7-9 in Las Vegas. The team will return to action to host Iowa for Gym Jam on Feb. 16 at Huff Hall.