Junior Jon Drollinger and the Illini face against No. 4 Ohio State on Saturday.
Jan. 25, 2007
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The No. 5 Illinois men's gymnastics team is set to host defending Big Ten champion Ohio State on Saturday, Jan. 27 at 7 p.m. The Illini, who recently dropped their dual match opener against Minnesota, are looking to rebound against a tough Buckeye squad. The Co-Ed meet also will feature the women's gymnastics team, who is taking on Iowa in its home opener as well.
"Ohio State is the toughest opponent we will face for the home duals this season," head coach Yoshi Hayasaki said. "I expect that it will be a very close and competitive meet."
A full recap of the Illini's performance can be found following the conclusion of the dual at www.fightingillini.com. Fans can watch the action live through live scoring and video, available by clicking on the schedule link on the left side of the Illinois men's gymnastics main page.
SETTING THE SCENE VS. OHIO STATE
The Fighting Illini welcome the Ohio State Buckeyes to Huff Hall this weekend, marking their first home meet of the 2007 season.
As the reigning 2006 Big Ten Champions, Ohio State returns 14 letterwinners from last year, including 2006 Big Ten Champion DJ Bucher (pommel horse) and Willie Ito (high bar). This is the 147th time these two teams have competed against each other, with Ohio State leading the matchup 178-67-1.
THE BUCKEYE'S LAST TIME OUT
In Ohio State's 27th-consecutive trip to the Windy City Invitational, the Buckeyes garnered a third-place finish with a score of 209.5. Since Windy City, the Buckeyes took a week off before traveling to the friendly confines of Huff Hall. In 10 years at the helm of the men's program, head coach Miles Avery has led his squads to top-3 finishes nine times at the invite. The 2002 squad was the only team under Avery to finish below this mark in fourth place.
The Illinois men's gymnastics team dropped its dual season opener, falling to the Minnesota Golden Gophers 207.150-204.750 at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minn. Junior Wes Haagensen captured his second all-around title of the season to lead the Illini, while freshman Chad Wiest and junior Jon Drollinger each took home individual crowns on floor exercise and rings, respectively.
Haagensen finished first in the all-around (49.600) for the second straight week and tied for second on parallel bars (8.900). In addition, Drollinger, who tied his career high of 9.500, took home the individual crown on rings. Wiest had a breakout performance in just his second career collegiate competition, grabbing the floor exercise title with a season-high score of 9.450, while also setting a personal best on high bar (8.250). The Butler, Pa., native also took third on vault with an 8.500. Junior Michael Boyer tied his career high of a 9.200 to finish third on the floor exercise, while sophomore Tyler Yamauchi earned a solid 9.350 on the rings to finish second to Drollinger on the event. Overall, the Illini had six top-three finishes on the night.
LAST TIME THEY MET
The last dual meet between Ohio State and Illinois was on Jan. 21, 2006 in Columbus, Ohio, where the Illini fell to the Buckeyes, 213.250-206.900. Former Illini and co-captain Adam Pummer (Allentown, Pa.) was the lone bright spot for the Illini. Pummer recorded four top-three finishes (FX, VT, PB, HB) including two event titles. Junior Tyler Yamauchi (Sugarland, Texas) also turned in an impressive result on the rings with a second-place 9.100.
Illinois currently ranks in the top 10 on all six events nationally, with the highest team ranking of third coming on floor exercise and parallel bars. As a team, Illinois has moved up one spot from sixth to fifth in the national rankings, carding a season team average of 207.250 after two competitions this season.
Individually, the Illini boast eight gymnasts ranked nationally between the six apparatus. Junior Wes Haagensen leads the group, tabbed third in the all-around and ninth on parallel bars. Freshman Chad Wiest also is making a name for himself on the national scene, grabbing a sixth-place ranking on floor exercise and 15th on vault. Sophomore Michael Boyer is ranked No. 16 on the floor, receiving his first national ranking of his career, while junior Chris Silcox is tabbed No. 20 on the floor and ninth on high bar as well.
Junior rings specialist Tyler Yamauchi opens the season ranked seventh in the event, and is No. 18 on parallel bars. Also grabbing recognition on parallel bars is freshman Brian Liscovitz (13) and junior Chris Lung (17). Coming off a career performance against Minnesota, junior Jon Drollinger rounds out the ranked Illini with a No. 8 standing on rings.
HAAGENSEN EARNS DUEL HONORS
Honors rolled in for junior Wes Haagensen who was recently named National Gymnast of the Week for the week ending Jan. 15, by the College Gymnastics Association. Haagensen, who garnered his second career Big Ten Gymnast of the Week selection earlier in the week, notched his second national accolade after grabbing the honor as a freshman on March 24, 2005.
Haagensen earned the national spotlight after capturing the all-around title at the 37th Annual Windy City Invitational with a score of 52.700, leading the Illini to a second-place finish overall, ahead of three Big Ten teams. Haagensen added to his all-around title by grabbing the floor exercise title (9.350), tying for fourth on parallel bars (9.300), fifth on vault (8.650) and tied for eighth on pommel horse (8.550). Haagensen becomes the first Illinois gymnast to win the title since Leo Oka (1998-2001) took home the crown in 2001 with a score of 51.250. Most recently, Haagensen took home the all-around title in the Illini's loss to Minnesota on Jan. 20, in Minneapolis, Minn.
The Illini outscored the Buckeyes in their first meeting this season at the Windy City Invitational, 209.750-209.500. Preseason All-Big Ten selection Wes Haagensen helped give the Orange and Blue the edge, capturing the invite's all-around title with a score of 52.700. At the meet, Haagensen noted a first-place finish on floor (9.35) and finished in the top 10 on pommel horse, vault and parallel bars. Freshman Chad Wiest, who also posted a top performance, won the vault crown for the Illini with an 8.950. Wiest followed the title with a first-place outing against Minnesota on the floor (9.450).
Illinois will take a break from conference action when it sends gymnasts to the Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas on Feb. 9-10. As one of the most prestigious events on the docket for the Illini this season, the Challenge gives Orange and Blue athletes the opportunity to shine on a national and international stage.
The Winter Cup serves as a chance for the top gymnasts around the country to position themselves for Olympic Team consideration in 2008. Saturday, Feb. 10, will feature an exciting all-around Finals similar to USA Championships.
LIVE SCORING AND VIDEO
Illinois men's gymnastics will feature live scoring and live video for all of its home meets this season. Fans can access the feed through fightingillini.com, by clicking on the schedule link on the left side off the Illinois men's gymnastics main page.