#7 Illini Win 438.6-438.0 Thriller at #5 Ohio State
Feb. 23, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The seventh-ranked Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team captured a narrow 438.600-438.000 victory over No. 5 Ohio State Saturday evening at the St. John Arena, marking the second straight week an Illinois meet has been decided by less than a point. Senior captain Vince Smurro and sophomore Mike Wilner claimed event titles and scored among Illinois' top three all-time highest on their respective apparatuses to help the Illini edge the Buckeyes with a team score that was more than 10 points higher than their previous season best.
"I was really proud of the vast improvement in our overall team score," head coach Justin Spring said. "The team really took ownership and showed great commitment to refining every little problem in the gym. This was just the momentum that this team needed."
In the opening rotation, Illinois totaled a 72.950 on pommel horse, but only one Illini - senior Yoshi Mori - managed to finish in the top five on that apparatus, tying for third with a 14.800.
On floor, Smurro captured his first individual title as an Illini, scoring a career-high 15.900 to tie Illinois' third-highest floor score all-time. Meanwhile, Mori tied for fourth place with a 14.900, helping the Orange and Blue to a season-high team score of 74.350.
"Vince had a tremendous floor routine," Spring said. "He ended with a stuck dismount, which is huge, and the judges rewarded him for it. It was the icing on the cake for an outstanding routine."
In the following rotation, Illinois turned in a 71.450 on vault, led by freshman Fred Hartville, who tied for third with a 14.800. Mori finished in the top five once again, placing fifth with a 14.750.
The Illini dominated on rings, scoring a season-high 76.000. Wilner tied the second-highest rings score in Illinois history with a 15.800 to capture his third rings title of the season and second in as many weeks. Freshman Joey Peters placed third with a 15.300, followed by junior Cameron Rogers in fourth with a career-best 15.100. Junior Andrew Margolis and senior Austin Phillips shared fifth place with a 14.900.
"Wilner is as solid and consistent as ever," Spring said. "He looked strong and in shape, and I think he's just going to keep pounding out these routines all year."
On high bar, Illinois improved its season high by nearly two points with a 73.350, while three Illini placed in the top five individually. Peters took second with a 15.150, marking a team high for Illinois this season. Mori followed in third with a 14.900, just one tenth shy of his career high, while freshman Max Mayr placed fifth with a career-best 14.500.
In the final rotation, the Illini tallied a 70.500, and secured two top-five finishes. Rogers tied for second with a 14.350, while Smurro tied for fourth with a 14.250.
Peters was the only gymnast to compete in the all-around, scoring a career-high 85.850, which is Illinois' highest all-around mark of 2013.
"We worked hard for this win," Spring said. "And I think that is good motivation going into No. 1 Penn State at home next weekend. It's going to be a battle, but these guys are in a great place mentally and physically to take on the work week and challenge Penn State."
The Orange and Blue will return to Huff Hall next weekend to host No. 1 Penn State on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT. The Illini men will battle the Nittany Lions alongside the Illini women, marking Illinois' second and last co-ed home meet of the season.