Redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri captured three titles for the second straight meet.
March 3, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The third-ranked Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team scored a season-high 355.100 to topple No. 5 Ohio State (341.300) Friday evening during Senior Night at Huff Hall. As a team, the Illini won five of six events and posted season-best team scores on three apparatuses. Redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri took home three titles, including his first in the all-around this season, performing for the final time on his home floor.
"Overall, the competition was fantastic," Illini head coach Justin Spring said. "You could feel the energy, and the guys were really into it. There were a few small mistakes on high bar, but when it's high bar, small mistakes equal big falls. Guys got back up and finished, and I'm proud of them for that."
Illinois got off to a strong start on floor, sweeping the top four spots to earn its best score (59.700) on that event this season. Freshman C.J. Maestas led the charge, capturing his ninth title as an Illini and second on floor with a 15.300, the second-highest floor score for an Illini this year. The newcomer just edged Ruggeri, who took second with a 15.100. Senior C.J. Padera secured third with a season-best 14.700, while junior Yoshi Mori finished fourth (14.600).
The Orange and Blue continued their success in the second rotation with a season-best team score of 57.900 on pommel horse, highlighted by Mori's first-place finish with a career-best 15.200, which leads the team this season. The win marked his third title of the year and first on that apparatus. Meanwhile, Maestas tied for fourth (14.400), while sophomore Malcolm Brown took sixth with a career-high 14.300. Despite scoring a season high, the Illini could not match the Buckeyes (58.500) on pommel horse, taking their only team loss of the night.
On rings, the Illini swept the top four spots, led by Maestas who picked up his second title of the night and 10th of the season with a 15.300. Seniors Tyler Mizoguchi and Anthony Sacramento and sophomore Cameron Rogers tied for second, each scoring 15.000, which marked a career high for Rogers and a season high for Mizoguchi. Senior Kyle Moe finished sixth with a 14.600.
The Illini had a stellar night on vault as well, posting a season-best 59.700. Ruggeri captured his first title of the night and fourth on vault this season with a 15.400, matching both his personal best and the Illinois record in the modern scoring era. Mori and sophomore Alex Varga tied for second, scoring 14.800, which marked Varga's best this season. Rogers and sophomore Jordan Valdez tied for sixth (14.700), both earning their highest vault scores of the year.
On parallel bars, the Illini finished first, second and third, as junior Austin Phillips won his first title of the season with a career-best 15.100. Mori matched his career high with a 14.800 to finish second, while Maestas tied his career high with a 14.600 to take third. Senior C.J. Padera and Ruggeri tied for fifth (14.200).
In the final rotation, Ruggeri claimed his second title of the night and fourth on high bar this season with a 15.800 in his final routine at Huff Hall. Padera and Phillips tied for second (14.400), matching Padera's season high, while senior Devin Regan placed fourth with a season-high 14.200.
In the all-around Ruggeri matched Illinois' season-best with an 88.100 to take home the title for the first time this year, just edging Maestas (85.200). The title was Ruggeri's team-leading 11th of the season and 66th of his career, just two shy of David Zeddies, who ranks third on the Illinois all-time titles list.
Ruggeri, Mizoguchi, Moe, Padera, Regan and Sacramento were recognized for Senior Night following the event.
"Our seniors obviously stood out," Spring said. "They are a great group of kids, and some of their bios go on for 10 minutes. It really is impressive, what all they have given this program, not just in scores and in competition but in leadership, energy and personality. They will be greatly missed."
The Illini will hit the road next weekend for a Big Ten clash with Nebraska on Sunday, March 11 at 1 p.m. CT.