Freshman Paul Ruggeri will lead the Illini this weekend as they take on No. 1 Penn State.
Feb. 13, 2008
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Freshman Paul Ruggeri, fresh off his selection as the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week, was named the College Gymnastics Association (CGA) National Gymnast of the Week, announced the national organization Wednesday afternoon. Ruggeri earns the honor after his best performance of the season at the 2008 Winter Cup Challenge and earning his first Big Ten weekly accolade.
"Again, Paul couldn't be more deserving of this national honor," head coach Yoshi Hayasaki said. "He had such a great competition this past weekend, beating out some of colleges best gymnasts and even national team members. This award is just a testament to how hard he is working and getting better everyday in the gym. So far this season, we have just seen so much growth in him as a gymnast. Paul is only going to get better as he continues his career here at Illinois and internationally."
At the 2008 Winter Cup Challenge, Ruggeri was the highest finisher from the Big Ten Conference in the all-around in front of notables 2007 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year and teammate Wes Haagensen (11th), recent Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honoree Jake Bateman of Ohio State (13th), Derek Helsby of Penn State (17th) and Thomas Kelley of Michigan (18th).
The honor is Ruggeri's first of his career and Illinois' first national honor since Wes Haagensen captured the accolade on Jan. 17, 2007.
Illinois now returns to team competition this weekend when they host No. 1 and defending NCAA champion Penn State on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. at Huff Hall. The event marks the second straight year the Illini have taken on a No. 1-ranked opponent during the dual regular season. All Illini home meets can be followed live through live scoring and video at the official home of Illinois men's gymnastics at www.fightingillini.com.