Illinois Readies for Tough Road Challenge At Ohio State
Jan. 24, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The sixth-ranked Illinois men's gymnastics team takes on its toughest competition of the season when it heads to Columbus, Ohio to face eighth-ranked Ohio State at historic St. John Arena on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. CT. Illinois is looking to rebound against the Buckeyes after an early season loss to Minnesota at home by the narrowest of margins (.550). The Orange and Blue now enter this weekend on a mission against three-time defending Big Ten champion, Ohio State.
"Ohio State is a quality team and they are going to be ready for us this weekend," head coach Yoshi Hayasaki said. "I think Ohio State is a much more talented team than Minnesota, so we have been working hard to get healthy and prepared for them. We already faced Ohio State at Windy City and placed ahead of them. However, that was the first competition of the year, so everyone is rusty and you never know what to expect. We know we cannot take them for granted. They are going to be coming at us like Minnesota did last weekend, so we have to be ready to perform well."
The Buckeyes have had the last word against the Illini over the last three decades, winning 12 of the last 18 meetings between the two programs since 1978. The last time Illinois came close in a dual was a tie in 2005 (223.400) in Columbus against then-No. 1 OSU.
"This senior class has never beaten Ohio State," senior gymnast Chris Silcox said. "We have been talking about that a lot this week. We have not had the best of luck during the regular season against them, but we think we are due and ready to get a win this weekend to break that trend."
Illinois' meet against Ohio State begins at 6 p.m. CT, 7 p.m. local time, in Columbus. Live scoring will not be offered for this meet, but a full recap will be available at the conclusion of the night's events at www.fightingillini.com.
KEEPING AN `EYE' ON OSU
On the competition floor, the team will count on its three All-America seniors to carry on the program's tradition of excellence in 2008. In all, DJ Bucher, Pejman Ebrahimi and Jimmy Wickham have combined to garner a total of nine All-America honors in their first three seasons, including Ebrahimi's national vault title in 2007. Also returning for Ohio State are juniors Jake Bateman, 2006 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and Eddie Hay, reining conference champion on floor.
BREAKING THE TREND
In the regular season, however, the last Illinois win in a dual came in 2002 (214.375-213.325), while the closest Illinois has come since then came in 2005 when they tied then-No. 1 Ohio State, 223.400-all.
LAST TIME VS OSU
Illinois topped Ohio State on the floor (36.850-36.000) and vault (35.650-34.550), while also carding season highs on the floor, rings (36.200), vault (35.650) and high bar (34.750). On the night, the Illini posted two scores of over 9.3000, with Tyler Yamauchi posting a 9.350 on rings, while Chad Wiest recorded a 9.350 on the floor.
Haagensen added to his all-around first-place finish with a second-place outing on high bar (9.150) and pommel horse (8.550), tied for fourth on parallel bars (8.800) and third on vault (9.000). Yamauchi also took home an individual title, posting a 9.150 on vault, while he also finished fourth on rings (9.350). On the rings, the Illini swept the top-three places. Other individual highlights included the dual match debut Luke Stannard on pommel horse (8.550), tying for second on the event.
IN THE BOOKS: MINNESOTA
Ruggeri, along with his first-place all-around finish, tabbed the floor title with a 14.900, while also finishing second on both vault (15.650) and high bar (14.400). Senior co-captain Michael Boyer placed second on floor with a 14.750. The other senior captain, Tyler Yamauchi, served up a highlight performance of his own, claiming the individual title on rings (14.900). Sophomore Brian Liscovitz had a stellar night of his own for the Orange and Blue, helping the Illini sweep the top-three spots on parallel bars with his score of a 14.350, good enough for the event title. Senior Wes Haagensen added a second-place finish on pommel horse (14.650) and a third-place outing on both high bar (14.250) and rings (14.600) to close out a top-notch evening for himself. Freshman Daniel Ribeiro continued his success on pommel horse, finishing third on the event to mark his second straight top-three finish of the year. Ribeiro won the event at the 2008 Windy City Invitational last weekend.
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
Individually, sophomore Luke Stannard and freshman Daniel Ribeiro, who are ranked 13th and third individually on pommel, respectively, lead the way. Freshman Chad Wiest has paved the way on floor; ranked third in the nation (15.450), while senior co-captain Michael Boyer comes in at 12th (14.950) followed by Tyler Yamauchi (14.900) in 13th. On rings, co-captain Yamauchi is 13th (14.725), while senior Wes Haagensen is 16th (14.575). Haagensen also is tabbed eighth on parallel bars (14.650).
Rounding out the Illini in the rankings is freshman Paul Ruggeri, who has his named notched in the polls on three different events, his highest a seventh-place showing (15.700) on vault, followed by ninth (83.400) in the all-around and 13th (14.400) on high bar.
NEW SCORING SYSTEM