The No. 2 Illini will try to take down No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 7 Michigan on Saturday night.
Jan. 28, 2012
No. 2 Illinois will look to knock off No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 7 Michigan Saturday night at Huff Hall in its first home meet of the season. Last year, the Illini came up just short to then-No. 2 Oklahoma in a tri-meet with Penn State, falling to the Sooners, 366.400-359.100. Oklahoma went on to edge the Illini at the 2011 NCAA Championships, finishing runner-up, just ahead of the third-place Illini. The Orange and Blue also fell to Michigan last season, taking a 344.050-340.400 loss to the Wolverines. The Illini last saw Michigan at the Windy City Invitational, where Illinois finished second (341.900 ), while Michigan finished third (338.700).
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
No. 1 Oklahoma boasts a 348.425 team average and ranks first on rings (60.925) and vault (58.775), second on high bar (57.425) and third on pommel horse (56.425). The Sooners are 5-0 and coming off a 353.150-347.750 win over No. 3 Ohio State, which was ranked second at the time. The Oklahoma squad also features the nation's top all-arounder, Jacob Dalton.
No. 7 Michigan is 4-2 after knocking off then-No. 1 Penn State last week. Michigan has a 339.500 team average and ranks first in the country on parallel bars (58.100) and second on floor (59.800).
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
This week's GymInfo team and individual rankings are based on the total season national average. After their win over Iowa, the Illini rank second overall (347.100) and are in the top three on four events -- first on high bar (57.750), second on parallel bars (57.200) and third on rings (60.300) and vault (58.550).
Individually, freshman C.J. Maestas is ranked in the top 20 on four events and is second in the all-around (86.650) and third on rings (15.500). Paul Ruggeri tops the list on high bar (15.600). Tyler Mizoguchi is second on parallel bars (15.200), while C.J. Padera, Anthony Sacramento, Austin Phillips, Yoshi Mori and Mike Wilner cracked the top 20 on their respective events.
The then-No. 4 Illini men's gymnastics team took down No. 13 Iowa, 352.300-326.200, to open the dual season last weekend at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Orange and Blue finished first on all six events both as a team and individually and captured the top three spots in the all-around.
Freshman C.J. Maestas led the Illini once again in his second competition with the Orange and Blue. The Corrales, N.M., native captured his second straight all-around (86.800) and rings (15.600) titles, improving his scores in both. The Illini newcomer also won on pommel horse (15.000) and floor (15.600) and finished third on vault (14.600).
Meanwhile, redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri posted a solid night of his own, taking his second consecutive crown on high bar (15.800) and his first of the season on vault (15.400). Ruggeri, who boasts 58 individual titles in his career, is now one win away from tying Spring for fifth-most in school history. The Manlius, N.Y. native also finished second on floor (14.500) and in the all-around (86.200).
Fellow senior Tyler Mizoguchi collected his first title of the season, placing first on parallel bars (15.200) to round out the Illini event-winners. The Houston, Texas, native also took second on vault (14.900) and third both on floor (14.300) and in the all-around (85.400).
Several other Illini finished in the top three, as newcomer Michael Wilner took second on rings (15.200), just edging senior Kyle Moe, who finished third with a career-high 15.100. Senior C.J. Padera finished second on pommel horse (14.400) and parallel bars (15.100), while junior Austin Phillips placed second on high bar (14.900), and classmate Yoshi Mori tied for third with Mizoguchi on floor (14.300).
WEEKLY HONORS CONTINUE FOR MAESTAS
Newcomer C.J. Maestas swept the Big Ten men's gymnastics honors earlier this week, garnering both Gymnast and Freshman of the Week accolades, the conference office announced Monday. The Corrales, N.M., native earned four titles last Saturday night to lead Illinois to a 352.300-326.200 victory over Iowa.
In only his second meet as an Illini, Maestas captured his second all-around (86.800) and rings (15.600) titles, improving his scores in both. The Illini newcomer also won on pommel horse (15.000) and floor (15.600) and finished third on vault (14.600). Maestas now leads the Illini with six titles this season.
This marks his first Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honor and second consecutive Freshman of the Week accolade and is the first Big Ten Gymnast of the Week for Illinois since Austin Phillips earned the title on March 28, 2011. Maestas was named both Big Ten Freshman and NCAA Gymnast of the Week following his debut performance at Windy City earlier this season.
RUGGERI CHASING GREATNESS
Redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri boasted 55 titles when the season began and has garnered three thus far in 2012, which is good for second-most on the team. The Manlius, N.Y. native is now one title away from tying his coach and former Illini standout, Justin Spring who boasts 59 titles all-time and ranks fifth in Illini history.
Ruggeri will look to pass Spring with wins over No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 7 Michigan on Saturday night.
ILLINI AT THE TOP
The Illini boast 11 titles after two meets this season. Freshman C.J. Maestas leads the Orange and Blue with six, winning the all-around and rings at both Windy City and Iowa. The Illini newcomer also took the titles on pommel horse and floor at Iowa to win four titles in his second collegiate competition.
Meanwhile, redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri boasts three titles this season with two on high bar and one on vault, winning high bar at Windy City and both events at Iowa.
Fellow seniors Tyler Mizoguchi and Anthony Sacramento round out the list of Orange and Blue title-winners, as Mizoguchi took first on parallel bars at Iowa and Sacramento tied Maestas for the rings crown at Windy City.
Several Illini, including current U.S. senior national team members Paul Ruggeri, Tyler Mizoguchi and C.J. Maestas will travel to Las Vegas, Nev., for the U.S. Winter Cup Challenge, Jan. 2-4. The next senior national team will be named following the event.