Men's Gymnastics
#6 Illini Ready for Metroplex Challenge

Illinois will compete in the Metroplex Challenge on Friday at 7 p.m.
Illinois will compete in the Metroplex Challenge on Friday at 7 p.m.

Jan. 25, 2013

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The sixth-ranked University of Illinois men's gymnastics team will travel to Fort Worth, Texas, this week to compete in the Metroplex Challenge on Friday at 7 p.m. CT at the Forth Worth Convention Center. The defending national champion Illini will take on No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 5 Ohio State, No. 8 Iowa and club teams from Texas and Texas A&M.

Oklahoma boasts a 35-8 advantage in the all-time series with the Illini, but Illinois went 3-0 against the Sooners in 2012 and edged runner-up OU for the team title at the NCAA Championships. The Sooners are 5-1 after winning the Rocky Mountain Open and finishing second at the Stanford Open in the first two weeks of the season.

Ohio State tied for second of six with the Illini last weekend at the Windy City Invitational, marking the season-opening competition for the Buckeyes. The Illini lead the all-time series, 97-71-2.

Iowa finished fifth at the Windy City Invite last Saturday, edging only UIC in its first action of the year. Illinois holds a 140-78 all-time mark against the Hawkeyes.

After two weeks of competition, the Illini check in at No. 6 in the national team rankings with a season average of 426.600. The Illini are ranked second nationally on three of the six events, including pommel horse (71.750), rings (73.200) and parallel bars (71.900).

Individually, senior Yoshi Mori is ranked fifth in the all-around (85.700) and is in the top 20 on three events, checking in at No. 5 on pommel horse (15.075), No. 18 on parallel bars (14.400) and No. 19 on vault (14.650). Freshman Joey Peters is ranked fourth on parallel bars (15.075), seventh in the all-around (83.850) and 11th on rings (14.800). Sophomore Mike Wilner is fifth on rings (15.200), while junior Cameron Rogers is seventh on parallel bars (14.800), and freshman Fred Hartville is eighth on vault (14.900). Overall, the Illini hold 14 spots on the individual top-20 lists.

The reigning NCAA champion and second-ranked Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team tied for second at the 43rd annual Windy City Invitational last Saturday night at the UIC Physical Education Building. The Orange and Blue posted a 427.750 to tie Ohio State, finishing just behind Michigan (431.300). Minnesota placed fourth with a 425.750, followed by Iowa (422.350) and host UIC (401.600).

The competition marked Illinois' second straight runner-up finish in the Windy City Invitational. Ohio State edged the 2012 NCAA championship squad in last season's meet.

Four of seven 2012 Illini All-Americans returned to the Orange and Blue lineup this season, including seniors Yoshi Mori (AA, PH) and Austin Phillips (HB) and juniors Jordan Valdez (HB) and Chad Mason (PH).

Sophomore C.J. Maestas will miss the 2013 season due to a tricep injury sustained during practice last fall. In his freshman year, the three-time All-American won the conference all-around crown to earn Big Ten Gymnast and Freshman of the Year honors before capturing Illinois' first-ever NCAA still rings title. Maestas underwent surgery over Thanksgiving weekend. He is expected to compete at the 2013 U.S. Visa Championships this August and will return to the Illini lineup for the 2013-14 collegiate season.

The 2012 Fighting Illini strung together an unforgettable season, highlighted by their first NCAA team title since 1989 and the first national championship for any Illinois program since 2003. The Orange and Blue also took home their fourth straight Big Ten crown and knocked off the top-ranked team in the nation three times throughout the season en route to a 28-2 overall mark.

The squad produced two NCAA event champions, 11 All-America honors, three Big Ten individual titles, two All-Big Ten selections, the Big Ten Gymnast and Freshman of the Year and its fourth-ever Nissen-Emery Award winner. Head coach Justin Spring was named National Coach of the Year after notching his third straight Big Ten Coach of the Year honor.

The Orange and Blue will send gymnasts to compete for national titles and spots on the U.S. senior national team at the U.S. Winter Cup Challenge, Feb. 7-9 in Las Vegas.