Sophomore Tyler Mizoguchi earned his first-career All-America honor in the all-around with a sixth-place finish (87.300).
April 17, 2010
WEST POINT, N.Y. - On a night where nothing seemed to go their way, the Illini men's gymnastics team battled through it all to take fourth place at the 2010 NCAA Championships Friday night at Christl Arena. Seven Illini finished in the top 10 to advance to Saturday night's Individual Event Finals, while sophomore Tyler Mizoguchi placed sixth in the all-around (87.300) to earn the first All-America honor of his career.
"This was a hard meet to explain," associate head coach Justin Spring said. "So much happened. The guys never gave up. It seemed like every time we got a little bit of momentum, we'd just have a small mistake that really cost us. It's hard to keep bouncing back on every event when that happens. From a ring breaking to our anchor guy kind of having a fall, I thought we did our best, fought until the end and we were still able to bring some hardware home. It's not the one we wanted, but we're a young team and next year we'll be in the running again. We just have to go back and figure out how to put together a more consistent last meet."
After opening with a bye, the Illini's first event was pommel horse, where senior Luke Stannard tallied a 15.150 to lead the team with a third-place finish on the event. He was the lone Illini to advance to Saturday, as defending pommel horse champion Daniel Ribeiro (14.200) did not qualify.
The next stop was rings and the setting for one of the rarest occurrences in men's gymnastics, let alone during the NCAA Championships. Senior Tyler Williamson had barely begun his routine when the left ring snapped and broke in two places, forcing him to hang for a few seconds with all of his weight on his right arm before he dropped to the mat. After a more than 30-minute delay that involved taking down the entire structure to replace the ring, the Illini finished out the event and moved on to vault.
Unfortunately, the struggles continued for Illinois, with Mizoguchi making the lone appearance in the top 10 with a score of 15.950 to finish in eighth place. The momentum picked up on parallel bars, as sophomore C.J. Padera and junior Paul Ruggeri tied for third place (15.150) and Padera also led the team on high bar with a second-place finish (14.950) and was the only Illini to qualify for the individual finals on two events. Ruggeri's two-year reign on high bar came to an end as he did qualify on the event, however, he will still have an opportunity to defend his title on parallel bars.
With first place out of reach, Illinois was determined to finish out the meet strong on floor exercise and did just that, as redshirt junior Chad Wiest captured fifth place (15.400) to secure a spot in the individual finals. As a result of the rings controversy, officials ruled that a seventh rotation would be added allowing any competitor who had fallen on his dismount an opportunity to re-do the routine. Ruggeri and Williamson both took advantage of the opportunity. For Ruggeri, it meant improving on his previous score, but for Williamson, it meant finishing the routine he had started for a chance to compete again on Saturday.
Williamson battled through obvious pain to put up the team's top score of the night on the event (14.900) to tie for seventh place and will join sophomore Anthony Sacramento (14.850), who finished 10th on rings, in the individual finals. His performance also bumped the Illini up to fourth place to narrowly edge California.
"Tyler's been our anchor on rings for forever," Spring said. "He's struggled so much with his routine this year, we've changed it four or five times, so to have the ring break and for him to come back at the end and I know his shoulder was killing him, the kid's a fighter. His dream was to make finals at NCAAs and be an All-American and he's got that opportunity now. I'm so proud of him."
Michigan (360.500) edged defending national champion Stanford (359.800) to take the crown, while Oklahoma placed third (357.050) and California (354.700) and Ohio State (347.350) rounded out the rest of the group.
ESPN2's coverage of the meet will air on Friday, April 23 at 12:30 p.m. CT. The Individual Event Finals begin at 6 p.m. CT Saturday night.Visit fightingillini.com for complete results and recap.
2010 NCAA Championships Final Team Standings
1. Michigan - 360.500
2. Stanford - 359.800
3. Oklahoma - 357.050
4. ILLINOIS - 354.900
5. California - 354.700
6. Ohio State - 347.350
Illinois Team Results By Event
Floor - 60.000
Pommel Horse - 57.600
Still Rings - 58.400
Vault - 62.750
Parallel Bars - 58.050
High Bar - 58.100
Illinois Individual Results By Event
*Individual Event Finals Qualifier