Former Illini Paul Ruggeri renewed his spot on the U.S. senior national team with a strong Winter Cup performance.
Feb. 10, 2013
LAS VEGAS - Former Fighting Illini All-American gymnast Paul Ruggeri retained his spot on the 15-man U.S. senior national team late Saturday night, following his solid performance at the U.S. Winter Cup Challenge. Current Illini Jordan Valdez and Yoshi Mori each finished in the top 20 on two apparatuses, while volunteer assistant coach and 2010 graduate Luke Stannard placed in the top 10 on two events.
Ruggeri, the 2012 NCAA vault champion, earned two trips to the podium with runner-up finishes on vault and high bar, posting two-day scores of 30.150 and 29.500, respectively. The nine-time NCAA All-American also placed eighth on parallel bars (28.650) and tied for ninth on floor (29.050) to finish eighth in the all-around (165.650) and earn a spot on the U.S. senior national team for the seventh time in his career.
Meanwhile, fellow former All-American Stannard placed sixth on pommel horse (28.350) and tied for seventh on floor (29.100) to finish 14th in the all-around (162.200).
Mori, a two-time NCAA All-American, finished 14th on both pommel horse (27.150) and vault (28.950) to place 23rd in the all-around (158.350), while Valdez, a 2012 high bar All-American, competed on two events, finishing 14th on high bar (26.950) and 19th on parallel bars (27.450).
Ruggeri joined Adrian de los Angeles, Sean Melton, Akash Modi, Brandon Wynn, Glen Ishino and Eddie Penev as 2013 U.S. senior national team selections. Olympians Jake Dalton, Jonathan Horton, Danell Leyva, Sam Mikulak, John Orozco, Chris Brooks, Steven Legendre and Alexander Naddour automatically retained their spots on the national team.
The Illini will return to action as a team next weekend, when they welcome Iowa to Huff Hall for Gym Jam on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 4 p.m.