Jan. 12, 2000
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's gymnastics team, which finished seventh in the nation in 1999, earned a No. 6 ranking in the 2000 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Preseason Coaches' poll, released last week.
The Illini return a strong nucleus of the 1999 squad including 1998 all-around national champion Travis Romagnoli and five NCAA qualifiers: Leo Oka, Linh Hoang, Greg Cook, Eric Nishimoto, and Sean-Paul Crawford. Oka qualified in the all-around and finished seventh in both the still rings and the all-around, one spot shy of all-america status.
The always-tough Big Ten Conference ranks five teams in the top seven, including last year's NCAA Champion, Michigan, ranked No. 1 to start the season. Ohio State is ranked second, followed by Penn State (No. 5), Illinois and Iowa (No. 7).
"We aren't ranked as high as we would like to be," 24-year head coach Yoshi Hayasaki said. "We return a strong lineup from a team that could have challenged for the national championship last year. But this will give us something to work for."
The Fighting Illini will be in action Saturday in Chicago at the Windy City Invitational and open the 2000 home season with a meet against Big Ten foe Michigan State at 7 p.m. in Huff Hall.
NCAA MEN'S GYMNASTICS PRESEASON RANKINGS
1. Michigan 2. Ohio State 3. Nebraska 4. Oklahoma 5. Penn State 6. Illinois 7. Iowa 8. California-Berkeley 9. Stanford 10. BYU