Illini Advance to NCAA Team Finals for 12th Straight Season
April 10, 2014
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team advanced to NCAA Team Finals for the 12th straight season after placing third in the Session I Qualifier of the NCAA Championships Thursday afternoon at Michigan's Crisler Center. Oklahoma won the session with a 440.000. Stanford placed second with a 433.550, followed by Illinois (432.850), Iowa (425.950, California (425.700), and William & Mary (415.350). The Sooners, Cardinal, Illini, and top three finishers from tonight's Session II Qualifier will compete for the national title on Friday at 6 p.m. CT.
"I think today was indicative of how this season has been," said head coach Justin Spring. "We had 67 hit percent ratio, which fortunately was enough to get us in to finals. I speak for the team and the coaches when I say that we expect to be and should be better tomorrow."
The Illini started off on floor exercise, finishing with a team score of 71.900. Freshman Chandler Eggleston achieved the highest Illini score on the apparatus (15.250), tying for fifth, followed by C.J. Maestas (15.200), who tied for seventh.
The Illini then moved to pommel horse, where they put up the second highest team score of the season, 72.050. The Orange and Blue were led by senior Chad Mason, putting up a 15.100, his, and the team's, second highest horse score of the season, for second place. Not far behind Mason was his teammate Matt Foster, who also achieved his second highest score of the season with a 14.900, placing fourth.
The third rotation for Illinois was still rings, where the team scored 74.350. Maestas continued his success on rings, placing third and scoring the highest for the Illini (15.450). Mike Wilner was the second highest score with a 15.200 for fifth place. Max Mayr also put up a big score for the Orange and Blue, with a 14.700 for his season high in ninth place.
The Illini continued to compete on vault, scoring 72.200 as a team. Eggleston scored a 15.200 for the team high and second place, with senior Alex Varga following with a 14.550 for 16th.
The Illini finished the afternoon on high bar with a team score of 70.550. Valdez led the Illini with a 15.200 for his second No. 2 finish of the afternoon, followed by Maestas, who put up a season high of 14.900 for third.
Maestas also competed in the all-around, placing third with a score of 86.150.
The Orange and Blue will be back in action tomorrow night to defend their NCAA title. Competition is slated to begin at 6 p.m. CT. Coverage will be live on Big Ten Network.