Newman takes pommel horse title with career high
March 29, 2003
Columbus, Ohio - Sophomore Ben Newman won the Big Ten pommel horse title with a career-high 9.675, topping the career-best 9.650 he set Friday during Big Ten championship team competition. The Denver, Colo., native adjusted his pommel horse routine prior to the weekend in hopes of improving his seventh-place finish of 8.525 in 2002.
"I changed some of the difficulty to make it a little cleaner and more consistent," Newman said.
In fact, Newman defeated Penn State's Luis Vargas by 0.275, an abnormally large margin of victory. Newman's title was the first Big Ten championship for an Illini gymnast since Travis Romagnoli captured the horizontal bar crown in 1998. Newman also was selected for the All-Big Ten team, the first Illini to gain that honor since Leo Oka and Linh Hoang were named All-Big Ten in 2001.
"Since we changed his routine, he's been a different guy," Hayasaki said of Newman. "His pommel horse has been swinging much better, executing better. He's been more consistent."
Freshman Adam Pummer finished second in the vault with a career-high 9.525. Michigan freshman Andrew DiGiore won the vault Big Ten championship with a career-best 9.625. Scott Wetterling, a junior from Pennington, N.J., placed seventh on vault with a 9.150.
The only Illini to qualify for the finals in more than one event, Wetterling also finished 10th on parallel bars, scoring an 8.200. Raj Bhavsar, a senior from Ohio State, won the Big Ten parallel bars title with a score of 9.275.
Although he qualified for the event finals on parallel bars, freshman Justin Spring did not compete because of the neck injury he sustained during Friday's team competition.
"There's no question that it sparked everybody today by having three guys perform well in the Big Ten championship finals," Hayasaki said. "It certainly motivated everybody in finding out Justin is doing much better today. I think everybody is really beginning to feel like 'Hey, we are going to be able to put together a team and we have a second chance at the NCAA championships.' "
All-Big Ten Team Linas Gaveika IOWA Andrew DiGiori MICH Justin Laury MICH Kevin Tan PSU Luis Vargas PSU Ben Newman ILL Guillermo Alvarez MINN Clay Strother MINN Raj Bhavsar OSU Randy Monahan OSU