Justin Spring won the vault with a career best score of 9.550.
March 1, 2003
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The seventh ranked Fighting Illini posted their highest score of the season by over three points, but it was not enough as No. 2 Penn State (217.250) topped the Illini (216.450) and No. 6 Iowa (213.750) Saturday night at Huff Hall. Illinois led the Nittany Lions after four rotations, 145.300-144.500, and was still within striking distance after five, trailing 181.250-180.300. The Orange and Blue closed with a season high score on the high bar (36.150), but could only makeup .150 points on PSU, who closed on the parallel bars (36.000).
In all, the Illini posted season highs on five events at the meet. In addition to the high bar, the squad also had season best performances on the parallel bars (35.000), vault (37.250) and still rings (35.550), and tied its best performance to date on the pommel horse (37.000).
"We have had some injuries and some inconsistencies up to this point, but we wanted to put something together tonight and I think we did," said Illinois head coach Yoshi Hayasaki. "This was the competition where we really needed to move forward, and we did that. We turned the corner tonight and I think we're going to be moving forward from here on."
Illinois individuals took first on a pair of events. Bob Rogers and Ben Newman both scored 9.400 on the pommel horse to share first place honors, and freshman Justin Spring scored a career best 9.550 on vault to claim victory.
Freshman Adam Pummer was the squad's top all-arounder, he finished third with a score of 53.100. Scott Wetterling was fifth with a 51.600. Penn State's Kevin Donohue and Luis Vargas finished 1-2 in the all-around with scores of 54.350 and 54.150 respectively.
Hayasaki was impressed with the performance of his two-standout freshmen.
"Once again, Adam Pummer came through as an all-arounder. The freshmen (Pummer and Justin Spring) have done a tremendous job vaulting, on parallel bars, and on high bar. They continue to come through for us."
Other top performances for the Orange and Blue included Spring on the floor (9.300, 2nd place), parallel bars (career high 8.950, t-4th place), and high bar (career high 9.200, sixth place); Pummer on vault (career high 9.500, 2nd place), parallel bars (8.950, 4th place) and high bar (career high 9.250, 5th place); All-American Peter Shostchuk on pommel horse (9.250, 4th place), Scott Wetterling on the still rings (career high 9.050, 4th place) and vault (9.300, 4th place); and Ben Newman on the still rings (career high-tying 9.000, 5th place). In all, the Illini set or equaled 12 career highs on the evening.
The Illini head out west for a pair of meets next week. First, they'll stop in Los Angeles, Calif. for the UCLA Invitational on Thursday, March 6. They will then head to Tempe, Ariz. for the Southwest Cup on Saturday, March 8 before returning to the friendly confines of Huff Hall for a match-up with No. 3 Oklahoma on March 15.
Team Results FX PH SR V PB HB Total #2 Penn State 35.500 35.800 36.850 36.750 36.000 36.350 217.250 #7 Illinois 35.550 37.000 35.550 37.250 35.000 36.150 216.450 #6 Iowa 35.650 35.350 35.050 35.700 35.350 36.650 213.750