#5 Illini Set to Open Season Saturday at UIC
Jan. 10, 2014
The Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team will kick off the 2013 season this Sunday in Chicago, taking on UIC at 1 p.m. CT. Illinois defeated the Flames in last season's opener, 425.45-385.75. The Orange and Blue last faced UIC at the 2013 Windy City Invite where the Illini tied for second with Ohio State.
The Flames finished the 2013 season ranked 15th with a National Qualifying Average of 408.537. The 2014 squad returns all three 2013 NCAA competitors, Joseph Hodges (AA), Lukasz Adamczyk (PH) and Jason Gaides (AA). Hodges placed the highest for the Flames, taking ninth in the all-around at NCAAs. Saturday's contest will mark the first meet of the season for UIC.
NO. 5 IN NATIONAL RANKINGS
The Blue and Orange start the season tied for fifth with Penn State in the GymInfo Preseason Coaches' Poll. Michigan came in at No. 1, followed by Oklahoma in second, Stanford in third and Ohio State in fourth.
Illinois checked in at No. 3 in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches' Poll. Michigan took the top spot, while Ohio State came in second, Penn State in fourth, Minnesota in fifth, Iowa in sixth and Nebraska in seventh. Reigning NCAA vault champion Fred Hartville was named one of two Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch from Illinois, along with C.J. Maestas, who was the 2012 NCAA still rings champion before missing last season due to injury.
The Fighting Illini will be sitting 16 of 30 routines due to team rule violations. Andrew Margolis, Alex Varga, C.J. Maestas, Joey Peters, and Max Mayr will all sit out at UIC. These unusual circumstances give other Illini the opportunity to compete as well as improve upon other skills. While the Orange and Blue will be at full strength on the pommel horse, Jordan Valdez and Chandler Eggleston will compete on still rings, Eggleston's first return to the event since the U.S. Junior Championships. High bar will see Cameron Rogers and Mike Wilner, who will be competing in high bars and vault for the first time.
The Illini will return to Chicago next weekend for the annual Windy City Invitational, which will take place at UIC Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. CT.