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    Illini Gymnasts Eighth in Preseason Poll
    All-American Leo Oka returns to lead the eighth-ranked Illini men's gymnastics team in 2001

    All-American Leo Oka returns to lead the eighth-ranked Illini men's gymnastics team in 2001

    Jan. 8, 2001

    The University of Illinois men's gymnastics team will open the 2001 season as the eighth-ranked team in the nation according to the GymInfo/NCAA Preseason Coaches Poll, released today.

    The Illini return six seniors to the 2001 squad who helped lead the Illini to a third straight NCAA regional appearance, including All-American Leo Oka, who placed sixth in the all-around at last year's NCAA Championships. NCAA qualifiers Nathan Torres, Sean-Paul Crawford, Jon Ham and J.G. Ketchen also return. The squad will also look to true-freshmen for depth, especially Johnny Cano (Camarillo, Calif.), Bob Rogers (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Scott Wetterling (Pennington, N.J.).

    "We are a little disappointed in the ranking," head coach Yoshi Hayasaki said. "But we will use this as motivation for us the season. I think coaches look at our loss of Travis Romagnoli and feel we don't have a strong team, but that couldn't be further from the truth. We have a solid group of seniors returning and our freshman class, which is improving tremendously each workout, will be big contributors to our squad this year."

    The Illini begin action on Sat., Jan. 13 at the Windy City Invitational in Chicago, Ill. The event features No. 1 Michigan, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 6 Iowa, No. 8 Illinois, No. 10 Michigan State, No. 12 Minnesota and No. 14 Illinois-Chicago. Start time is set for 7 p.m. at the UIC Physical Education Building.

    2001 GymInfo/NCAA Coaches Preseason Poll 1. Michigan 2. Ohio State 3. Oklahoma 4. Penn State 5. California 6. Iowa 7. Nebraska 8. Illinois 9. Stanford 10. Michigan State 11. Massachusetts 12. Minnesota 13. Temple 14. Illinois-Chicago 15. Air Force 16. William & Mary 17. Army 18. Navy 19. UC-Santa Barbara 20. Springfield

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