Junior Wes Haagensen claimed his first Big Ten Championship all-around title with a 54.450
March 30, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.- After competing Friday night against a fully loaded field of six top-ten teams, the No.7 Illinois men's gymnastics team took home 5th place at the 2007 Big Ten Championship. Junior Wes Haagensen claimed his first Big Ten Championship all-around title with a 54.450, securing the second consecutive all-around title for Illinois since assistant coach Justin Spring captured the honors in 2006.
"Wes did a great job tonight," said head coach Yoshi Hayasaki. "Last year, he finished second to Justin, so he was really focused on winning this time around."
"I'm very proud of him," Hayasaki continued. "Wes really came out tonight and performed. Today, he became a champion."
The Belleville, Ill. native has been a consistent all-arounder for Illinois all season, with four titles under his belt heading into the night. Haagensen met 2007 with great success, starting the season off with a bang, garnering co-Big Ten Gymnast of the Week and Collegiate Gymnastics Association Gymnast of the Week honors for the week ending January 18. Haagensen edged out Penn State's Casey Sandy (53.500) to claim the honors.
"It really came down to the wire," said Haagensen. "I knew that it came down to the very end, and when I saw the scores I couldn't have been happier. Other than winning the team title, this was my goal."
In what will go down as one of the most thrilling Big Ten Championships in the last ten years, the Ohio State Buckeyes came from behind to capture a third consecutive title with a team total of 217.750, the first team to do so since host Minnesota in 1992. Penn State University, who last won their first conference title in 2003, narrowly missed another conference title by a tenth of a point, tallying 217.650. The University of Minnesota who led through the final rotation, finished in third with 215.250. The University of Michigan, who was slated number-two nationally, ended competition in fourth with 214.350. The Illini picked up fifth with 211.900 and the University of Iowa rounded-out the field with 210.000.
"It is just where we are right now," said Hayaski. "We have a young team, but tonight was filled with some great competition. It was a great experience for them, so now we have to focus on getting in the gym and training for the NCAA Championships in two weeks."
Despite a rough start on high bar during the first rotation (34.750) junior Chris Silcox, who also qualified for event finals Saturday night, was a bright spot for the Orange and Blue on the apparatus, nailing his dismount for a 9.100. Junior all-arounder Wes Haagensen added to the team total, contributing an 8.850.
The Orange and Blue gained some momentum as they moved onto the floor exercise, an event they were ranked third in the nation on heading into the night. The Illini recorded a new team season-high of 37.850, as junior co-captain Tyler Yamauchi paved the way for Illinois, besting his previous career-high by .500, notching a 9.650. Freshman phenom Chad Wiest added to the effort tallying a 9.500 tying his career-high previously set against UIC earlier this month. Junior Chris Silcox also contributed, posting a 9.400. Both Yamauchi and Wiest qualified for the event title championships, garnering finishes of third and a tie for sixth, respectively.
In the third rotation, Illinois was once again met with some adversity on the pommel horse, but powered through, picking up a 32.050. Freshman Luke Stannard recorded Illinois' highest score on the event, an 8.550, as well as secured a spot in event finals. Stannard was followed closely by Haagensen, who recorded an 8.450.
On rings, the Illini notched their fourth-highest team total of the season, a 36.500. The Orange and Blue were once again led by rings powerhouse Tyler Yamauchi who carded a 9.500 for an eighth-place tie. The Sugarland, Texas native has been ranked in the top ten on still rings all year, and carried a national ranking of sixth heading into the night. Haagensen picked up a 9.350 on the event, and sophomore Tyler Williamson contributed an 8.950, his second highest score on the event all season.
Next for Illinois came vault, carding a team total of 35.250, an event they led all Big Ten teams in national rankings prior to competition. Tallying a 9.200 on the event, number-one ranked Tyler Yamauchi continued his stand-out success for the Orange and Blue. Junior Wes Haagensen followed closely, picking up a 9.100 to tie his season-high set previously against Big Ten rivals Michigan and Minnesota at the Pacific Coast Classic in February. Sophomore Tyler Williamson made it a career night on the event, picking up an 8.450. Yamauchi and Haagensen also secured spots in Saturday's event finals with finishes of third and a tie for fourth, respectively.
In the final rotation, Illinois carded a 35.500 on parallel bars, their second highest score of the season. Wes Haagensen notched a season-high 9.450, shattering his previous high set earlier this year as well as qualifying for event finals. Yamauchi again finished strong, taking home at 9.100 on the event. Freshman Chad Wiest contributed to the Illini recording an 8.550.
Below is a complete list of Illinois individuals who will be competing in the Big Ten Championship event finals, slated to begin at 7:00 p.m CST. All results can be found at fightingillini.com following the conclusion of competition.