Men's Gymnastics
#2 Illini Set to Host #13 UIC on Saturday

No. 2 Illinois will host No. 13 UIC at Huff Hall, beginning at 5 p.m. CT
No. 2 Illinois will host No. 13 UIC at Huff Hall, beginning at 5 p.m. CT

Feb. 10, 2012

Live Stats | Live Video

After knocking off No. 1 Oklahoma in its last time out, the second-ranked Illini men's gymnastics team will look to continue its success when it welcomes in-state rival No. 13 UIC to Huff Hall on Saturday, taking the mat at 5 p.m. CT. The Illini have already met UIC once this season, defeating the Flames on Jan. 14 at the Windy City Invitational, where the Orange and Blue finished second (355.400) and UIC finished fifth (327.200) in a field of six. The Illini lead the all-time series, 62-16.

UIC is coming off a 332.100 -325.200 loss to Iowa last Saturday despite winning on floor and parallel bars. As a team, the Flames rank 10th nationally on floor (56.467), 12th on vault (56.833), 13th on pommel horse (51.967), 14th on parallel bars (53.733) and 15th on rings (54.467) and high bar (51.000).

This week's GymInfo team and individual rankings are based on the total season national average. After their big wins over No. 1 Oklahoma and then-No. 7 Michigan, the Illini check in at second overall (348.000) and are in the top three on five events, ranking first on high bar (58.967), second on parallel bars (57.133) and vault (58.667) and third on rings (59.900).

Individually, freshman C.J. Maestas is ranked in the top 20 on four events and is third in the all-around (85.050) and second on rings (15.250). Paul Ruggeri tops the list on high bar (15.350), is fifth in the all-around (84.712) and eighth on vault (14.780). Senior Tyler Mizoguchi is sixth in the all-around (84.500), while classmate C.J. Padera ranks eighth on both pommel horse (14.167) and high bar (14.400). Seniors Anthony Sacramento and Kyle Moe, juniors Austin Phillips and Yoshi Mori, sophomore Jordan Valdez and freshman Michael Wilner cracked the top 20 on their respective events.

Redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri captured the bronze medal on floor and finished in the top four on three events to earn a spot on the U.S. senior national team for the fourth time in his career last Saturday night at the 2012 U.S. Winter Cup Challenge. Freshman C.J. Maestas was selected to the team by committee following a silver-medal finish on rings, while Ruggeri and Illinois volunteer assistant coach David Sender earned automatic spots based on the national team point system.

Ruggeri finished third on floor with a two-day combined total of 29.250 and just missed additional trips to the podium with fourth-place finishes on vault (32.300) and high bar (29.550). The seven-time All-American also finished seventh in the all-around with a combined 171.450, earning 52 national team points to secure his place on Team USA.

Meanwhile, Maestas captured silver on rings (30.000), tied for 10th on vault (31.300) and finished 12th in the all-around (168.900) to help him make the senior national team for the third time in his career. Illini senior Tyler Mizoguchi also competed in the Winter Cup finals, placing 10th on rings (28.550).

Sender, who joined the Illini this year as a volunteer assistant coach, made two trips to the podium, placing second on vault (32.400) and third on rings (29.950). Sender also took sixth on high bar (28.800) and in the all-around (173.550) and eighth on parallel bars (28.750) to secure 55 national team points and ensure his spot on the national team for the 11th time in his career and first since 2009.

Eight gymnasts, including Ruggeri, Maestas, Sender, Brandon Wynn, Samuel Mikulak, Jesse Silverstein, Glen Ishino and Adrian de los Angeles, were named to the national team Saturday night. They join the seven members of the 2011 World Championships team, which featured Jake Dalton, Jonathan Horton, Steven Legendre, Danell Leyva, Alexander Naddour, John Orozco and Chris Brooks. The 15-member U.S. senior national team will represent the country in international competition until the team is renamed at the 2012 U.S. Visa Championships in June.

Redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri was named NCAA Gymnast and Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Week, marking his second straight weekly conference honor and the ninth of his career. The Manlius, N.Y., native captured the bronze medal on floor at the 2012 U.S. Winter Cup Challenge last Saturday and earned a spot on the U.S. senior national team for the fourth time in his career.

The national accolade is Ruggeri's third career NCAA weekly honor and the first for Illinois since freshman C.J. Maestas earned the title following his performance at the Windy City Invitational earlier this season. The conference award marks the third consecutive Gymnast of the Week honor for the Orange and Blue, as freshman C.J. Maestas earned the accolade two weeks ago and Ruggeri garnered the title last week.

Redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri passed current head coach and former Illini standout Justin Spring on the all-time titles list two weeks ago against No. 1 Oklahoma and then-No. 7 Michigan with wins on vault (15.100) and high bar (16.000), marking his fourth and fifth crowns of the season. The Manlius, N.Y., native began the year with 55, which ranked fifth in Illini history and was just four behind Spring (59). With his recent victories, Ruggeri tied and passed Spring on the same night, moving into fourth place in career titles at Illinois and is eight away from former Illini great David Zeddies, who ranks third.

The Illini boast 13 titles after three 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 five titles this season with three on high bar and two on vault, winning high bar at Windy City and both events at Iowa and in the Oklahoma-Michigan tri-meet.

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.

The Illini will travel to Penn State next weekend to take on the No. 3 Nittany Lions on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. CT.