CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Illinois men's gymnastics team placed fourth as a team with a score of 227.95 and qualified six individuals for the NCAA Championships during the NCAA East Regional Championships Saturday night at Huff Hall.
The team finish was one spot shy of a shot at a national championship, however the mark of 227.95 was the third-highest by the squad this season. Ohio State won the meet with a mark of 231.10, followed by Michigan (231.050) and Penn State (229.55). The 1999 NCAA Championships will be held on April 22-24 in Lincoln Nebraska.
Sophomore Leo Oka (Scarborough, Ontario) placed second in the all-around with a career-high mark of 57.80 to qualify for the all-around competition at nationals. He put together career numbers on pommel horse (9.675), rings (9.70), parallel bars (9.80) and high bar (9.75). Two Illini qualifed on floor as freshman Sean-Paul Crawford (Buena Park, Calif.) finished third with a career-high 9.75 and senior All-American Kyle Zak (King of Prussia, Pa.) scored a 9.575 for 13th place. Junior Linh Hoang (Houston, Texas) also turned a career-best mark on pommel horse of 9.80 to qualify after placing fourth. Big Ten vault runner-up Eric Nishimoto (Northridge, Calif.) placed fifth with a mark of 9.625 and sophomore Greg Cook (Batavia, Ill.) took 11th on parallel bars with a 9.525 to also qualify for the championships.
"I was very pleased with our effort tonight," head coach Yoshi Hayasaki said. "We have been working hard to overcome some of the difficulties this team has been handed down the stretch. We wish our score could have been good enough to qualify the team for nationals, but I don't think anyone on the team is disappointed with the results."
THE FOLLOWING TEAMS AND INDIVIDUALS QUALIFIED FOR THE 1999 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Ohio State 231.10
Penn State 229.55
Leo Oka, Illinois -- 57.80 (1)
Jeff LaVallee, UMass -- 57.55 (2)
Todd Strada, Iowa -- 56.925 (3)
Sean-Paul Crawford, Illinois -- 9.75 (1)
Brian Hamilton, Iowa -- 9.650 (2)
Kyle Zak, Illinois -- 9.575 (3)
Jason Krob, Minnesota -- 9.875 (1)
Ben Hayward, Army -- 9.80 (2* tie break)
Linh Hoang, Illinois -- 9.80 (3* tie break)
Kevin Agnew, Iowa -- 9.675 (1)
Michael Moran, Temple -- 9.650 (2)
Shane de Freitas, Iowa -- 9.600 (3)
Jeff Moomaw, Michigan State -- 9.675 (1)
Eric Nishimoto, Illinois -- 9.625 (2* tie break)
James Mlynarski, Springfield -- 9.625 (3* tie break)
Lou Datilio, Iowa -- 9.550 (1)
Greg Cook, Illinois -- 9.525 (2)
Tony Pazcoguin, Springfield -- 9.450 (3)
Michael Moran, Temple -- 9.650 (1* tie break)
David Ruiz, Michigan State -- 9.650 (2* tie break)
Brian Hamilton, Iowa -- 9.650 (3* tie break)