Valdez, Mori Advance to Winter Cup Finals
Feb. 8, 2013
LAS VEGAS - Two current and two former Illini gymnasts advanced to Session III at the U.S. Winter Cup Challenge Thursday night at the Las Vegas Sports Center. Senior Yoshi Mori, junior Jordan Valdez, 2010 graduate and current volunteer assistant coach Luke Stannard and 2012 graduate Paul Ruggeri will compete in the final round on Saturday at 9:15 p.m. CT.
"We've got some work to do," Illini head coach Justing Spring said. "We're behind a little bit after tonight, but that doesn't mean the guys can't go out and have a great day on Saturday to get back in the mix."
Mori, a 2012 NCAA All-American in the all-around and on pommel horse, is tied for 12th on pommel horse (14.700) and ranks 21st in the all-around (78.450) going into Saturday's round. Meanwhile, 2012 high bar All-American Valdez is in the top 20 on both events on which he competed, ranking 13th on high bar (13.800) and 17th on parallel bars (13.700) after day one.
Nine-time NCAA All-American and current national team member Ruggeri is ranked second in National Team Points with 66 after finishing the session in second on high bar (14.600), third on vault (15.050), fourth on parallel bars (14.600) and 11th in the all-around (81.600).
"It looks like Paul has stayed in great shape," Spring said. "He's making a push hopefully for the 2016 Olympics, and I'm proud that he is competing this weekend."
Stannard followed, ranking 12th in the all-around (81.500) and fifth on pommel horse (14.200).
Winter Cup performances will help determine the 15-man roster for the U.S. men's senior national team through the 2013 Visa Championships in August. The eight members of the 2012 Olympic team will retain their spots on the national team.
The remaining seven spots will be filled based on the following criteria: the top two all-arounders who were not on the Olympic team, the top two gymnasts based on the National Team Point System, two athletes selected by the Men's Program Committee and one chosen by the national team coordinator.
The top 42 gymnasts, according to the National Team Point System, advanced to the final day of competition, along with the top three gymnasts on each apparatus. The all-around and individual event champions will be determined by their combined two-day scores.