Ben Newman won the pommel horse and broke his own school record on the still rings Saturday night at Oklahoma.
March 6, 2004
Norman, Okla. - The No. 1 Illinois men's gymnastics team put up what would have been the top score in the nation this year at Oklahoma Saturday night, unfortunately for the Illini (8-4), the Sooners (12-0) happened to break the NCAA record on the same night to extend their consecutive victories streak to 50. OU scored a 225.200 to shatter old NCAA mark of 223.500, set last season by Oklahoma. Illinois' score of 221.975 is a new school record, is the second best NCAA score this season and is No. 5 on the all-time NCAA list. Veteran UI Head Coach Yoshi Hayasaki praised Oklahoma after the meet and, despite the loss, was happy with his team's performance.
"Oklahoma was unbelievable today," said Hayasaki. "I don't know if they missed a routine all night. I take my hat off to them. As far as our score, I am very happy with it, especially on the road. The nice thing is that we still have room for a lot of improvement. We missed a lot of routines tonight and need to go back and fine tune them in the gym, but overall I feel good about where we're at heading into the post-season."
In addition to the team score of 221.975, several other school records also fell on the night. The Illini shattered the school parallel bars mark as all six Illini set season or career highs on the event. Tonight's total of 37.600 easily surpassed the old mark of 36.600, set twice this season. Sophomore Justin Spring led the way by breaking his own p-bars mark with a 9.700 to take first place. Spring also competed all-around for the second time in his career and broke the school all-around mark with a 54.850 despite a below average floor exercise performance, an event on which he ranks No. 1 in the nation. The old all-around mark was 54.575, set last season by Adam Pummer. Ben Newman edged his own still rings record by scoring a 9.600 to take third place on the event. Newman, the nation's top ranked athlete on pommel horse, won the event today with a score of 9.500.
Other top performances for the Orange and Blue include sophomore Adam Pummer's career-high 9.600 on parallel bars, which was good for second place, and sophomore Ted Brown's career-high 9.450 on pommel horse, which was also good for second. Spring took third on the high bar (9.550) and third on the floor exercise (9.250), while Spring and Pummer tied for third on the vault with identical 9.350s. In all, the Illini set or tied five school records, 12 career-highs and 15 season-highs on the night.
Illinois topped the Sooners on two of the six events, winning both the parallel bars (37.600) and pommel horse (37.425).
Tonight was not the first time the Illini put up a big score on the road only to see the opposition go higher. Back on Jan. 31, the Illini scored what was then a school record 219.000 at Ohio State, however, the Buckeyes went 220.200 to take the win.
"We saw a team that was better than us tonight," Hayasaki said of the Sooners. "Hopefully we can use that as motivation to improve during these next two weeks, so we can come back stronger at the Big Ten and NCAA Championships."
Up Next: The Illini (8-4) have a weekend off before hosting the Big Ten Championships at Huff Hall March 19-20. The team finals will take place on Friday, March 19 at 7 p.m., with the individual event finals taking place on Saturday, March 20 at 7 p.m. Illinois will be seeking its first conference title since 1989.
#1 Illinois at #2 Oklahoma * March 6, 2004 * McCasland Fieldhouse, Norman, Okla.
Team Results Total FX PH SR VT PB HB
#2 Oklahoma 225.200 37.500 37.275 37.550 37.700 36.900 38.275
#1 Illinois 221.975 36.300 37.425 36.800 37.050 37.600 36.800