Fred Hartville became the first freshman in Illinois history to win a national vault title.
April 21, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - University of Illinois freshman Fred Hartville won the national vault title, and three Illini gymnasts garnered All-America honors during NCAA Event Finals to wrap up the 2013 season Sunday afternoon at Penn State's Recreation Building.
"I don't think words can explain how this feels," Hartville said. "It has been an up-and-down season for the whole team, but I've tried to be really consistent on vault, and the consistency paid off for me. I've never let anything be enough for me. My stuck landing in team finals wasn't enough. I wanted more, so I came out even hungrier and went for it today."
Hartville matched the second-highest vault score of his career with a 15.425 to claim the NCAA crown. The newcomer's win marks the second straight season the Illini have produced a national vault champion and the third consecutive year the program has secured an individual NCAA title of any kind. Hartville is the fifth national vault champion in school history and first-ever Illini freshman to win a national title on vault. The Atlanta native also is the second Illinois freshman to capture an NCAA event title in the past two years and was one of three Illini to garner All-America honors during event finals.
"This keeps Illinois on the map, showing that we've got some gamers on our team," head coach Justin Spring said. "I've never seen anyone step up and land a vault of that caliber as often as Fred has in the most urgent situations, but he has stepped up again and again. I'm very proud of him, and he really deserves it."
Fifth-year senior Austin Phillips had a solid day as well, placing second on high bar to earn his second straight All-America accolade in his final performance as an Illini. Phillips notched a season-high 14.950 on the apparatus and finished runner-up to 2012 U.S. Olympian Sam Mikulak (16.100).
"It was a great way for Austin to go out as a senior," Spring said. "I know he wanted it badly, and he got it. He did a great job, and it was probably the best he's done all year. I couldn't be more proud of him."
Sophomore Mike Wilner secured All-America status with a fifth-place finish on rings, posting a 15.150 to earn his first career All-America honor and a third trip to the podium for Illinois. Senior Vince Smurro also competed in event finals, placing 10th on floor with a 13.650.
"It was a great job for Mike as well," Spring said. "It was good to have Illinois guys bringing home some great honors. I think the team has got some ground to work on as we move into next year."
The top eight gymnasts on each event received All-America honors. The Illini totaled four All-Americans throughout the 2013 NCAA Championships, including three in event finals and one during Saturday's all-around final (freshman Joey Peters). Illinois has produced at least one All-American in each of the last 17 seasons.
Illinois Event Finalists
10th - Vince Smurro (13.650)
5th - Mike Wilner (15.150)*
1st - Fred Hartville (15.425)*
2nd - Austin Phillips (14.950)*
*2013 All-American (top eight on an event)