Men's Gymnastics
#6 Illini Upended by #11 Nebraska on Senior Day, 425.40-424.25

Fifth-year senior Austin Phillips won his first high bar title of the season on Senior Day.
Fifth-year senior Austin Phillips won his first high bar title of the season on Senior Day.

March 23, 2013

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The sixth-ranked Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team wrapped up the regular season with a 425.400-424.250 loss to No. 11 Nebraska Saturday evening at Huff Hall. Four Illinois gymnasts came away with titles, including fifth-year senior Austin Phillips, who notched his first title of the season with his first win on high bar since 2011. The Cornhuskers edged the Illini on four of six events, and the Orange and Blue posted a season-low team total after leading through five rotations in the 1.15-point loss on Senior Day.

"We just had big misses everywhere," head coach Justin Spring said. "Our hit percentage was very low once again. In this unforgiving format, we can't allow these things to keep happening. I've seen every guy hit his routine this season. We just can't get it together on the same day."

The Illini started on floor, where they posted a 72.550 team score and secured only two of the top five spots individually. Senior Yoshi Mori matched his career high on the apparatus, earning a 15.200 to place second, while freshman Fred Hartville tied for fourth with a 14.700.

In the following rotation, the Orange and Blue earned a season-low 68.550 on pommel horse, but junior Chad Mason captured his first title of the season and second of his career with a 14.550 to place first, followed by classmate Cole Smith, who placed second with a season-high 14.300. Freshman Logan Bradley finished in fifth with a 14.050.

On rings, Illinois totaled a 72.600, led by first-place finisher, sophomore Mike Wilner, who earned his sixth rings title of the season with a 15.600. Junior Cameron Rogers also finished in the top five, placing fourth with a season-high 14.600.

In the fourth rotation, the Illini scored a 71.450 on vault. Hartville placed second with a 15.000, and sophomore Josh Wilson placed fifth with a 14.550.

The Illini secured a 71.800 on parallel bars in the fifth rotation. Phillips and Mori tied for second with 14.800s, which equaled Phillips' season high on that apparatus.

In the final rotation, Illinois relinquished its lead with a dismal 67.300 on high bar, marking its second-lowest score on that event this season. Despite the low team total, Phillips posted a season-best 14.750 to earn his first title of 2013, while freshman Joey Peters placed second with a 14.150, and Mori took fifth with a 13.900.

Mori won the all-around with an 85.050 in his final performance at Huff Hall, marking his seventh title overall this season and first in the all-around. The Irvine, Calif., native edged second-place finisher Peters, who posted an 84.300.

The Illini honored seniors Mori, Phillips, Vince Smurro and Malcolm Brown prior to the meet.

"The seniors have been tremendous during their time here," Spring said. "Vince became a captain in his second year here and has been a great energy for the team. Austin has been a great energy as well and has a personality like no one else. He's been a great competitor and entertainer and makes every meet fun. Malcolm has assumed more of a leadership role this year and has become more outspoken. Yoshi has been the backbone of the team this season and competes more for his team than he ever does for himself. He is certainly a team player and will be greatly missed."

The Illini will take a nearly two-week break before heading to Minneapolis to defend their title at the Big Ten Championships, April 6-7 at the University of Minnesota. There, Illinois will look to capture its fifth straight conference crown.