Senior Tyler Williamson and the Illini head west this weekend.
Feb. 19, 2009
The No. 6 Illinois men's gymnastics team hits the road to face its strongest competition of the season at the 2009 Pacific Coast Classic hosted at the Oakland Convention Center in Oakland, Calif, on Saturday Feb. 21 at 9:30 p.m. CT. The Illini, coming off a 345.500-339.800 win over No. 4 Penn State in last week's meet, will face a tough challenge when they take on four of the top-five teams in the country in No. 2 Califoria, No. 3 Stanford, No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Minnesota and the U.S. Air Force Academy. The Japan College All-Star team also will be competing.
The sixth anniversary celebration of the 2009 Pacific Coast Classic will be nationally-televised on Fox Sports Net (FSN) live on Saturday night with 1984 Olympic Gold Medalists Tim Daggett and Peter Vidmar serving as hosts. Check your local cable or satellite provider for specific channels and times to catch the night's top collegiate gymnasts.
ON THE TUBE
Saturday's meet will be broadcast nationally on Fox Sports Network (FSN). It marks the second broadcast for the Illini this season, as last week's meet against Penn State will be shown on Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. CT on the Big Ten Network.
LAST TIME OUT
The third-ranked Illinois men's gymnastics team took down fourth-ranked Penn State, 345.500-339.800, Saturday night at Huff Hall. Illinois scored a season-high on pommel horse, led by sophomore Daniel Ribeiro, to gain an early lead that held off the Nittany Lions.
Junior Brian Liscovitz captured his season-best on the high bar (14.350) to take the title, while freshman C.J. Padera took second (14.300) and senior Ross Bradley finished third (14.250) to lead Illinois to a 57.050 on the event.
Pasek scored a season-best 15.800 to earn second-place honors on vault, while senior Tyler Williamson led the Orange and Blue on rings, finishing third with a 14.350. Senior Chris Lung finished runner-up on parallel bars (14.350), while Padera was right behind to take third with a 14.200. The Illini were without All-American Paul Ruggeri.
FORMER ILLINI PICKED TO JUDGE TYSON AMERICAN CUP
Former Illini gymnasts Jonathan Corbitt of Hawthorn Woods, IL and Butch Zunich of Champaign, Ill. were recently selected as two of the four judges from the United States to serve as officials for the 2009 Tyson American Cup international gymnastics competition to be held at the Sears Centre arena in Chicago.
Corbitt graduated from Illinois, where he led the Fighting Illini to a 3rd Place Team finish in the 1998 NCAA Championships as their Captain. He was ranked in the Top 5 nationally on numerous events throughout his career and was also recognized as an Academic All-American multiple times.
Zunich has judged a total of 7 World Championships as well as the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. He has also served as the Technical Director of Officials at both the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and the 2003 World Championships in Anaheim. Zunich was a two-time NCAA All-American gymnast for the Fighting Illini on the Pommel Horse, securing a 2nd Place finish during the 1979 season and placing 4th overall in 1980.
Zunich and Corbitt will judge the Pommel Horse, Vault, and Parallel Bars events at this weekend's competition.
WINTER CUP CHALLENGE RECAP
The Illini took a break from team competition as they sent nine individuals to the Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas on Feb. 5 and 7. Illinois sophomore Paul Ruggeri captured the gold medal on high bar at the prestigious event held at the Las Vegas Sports Center. Ruggeri, the reigning NCAA high bar champion, had a combined score from the two days of competition of 30.500 on the event, edging out Olympian Joey Hagerty (30.450) for the national title. In other Illini news, sophomore Daniel Ribeiro finished runner-up on pommel horse with a combined score of 30.000.
RUGGERI NAMED CO-BIG TEN GYMNAST OF THE WEEK
Sophomore Paul Ruggeri was named Co-Big Ten Gymnast of the Week by the conference office for the week ending Feb. 8. The Manlius, N.Y., native garnered his first weekly laurel of the season after capturing the gold medal on high bar at the 2009 Winter Cup Challenge at the Las Vegas Sports Center in Las Vegas, Nev., on Saturday. Ruggeri shared the weekly conference laurel with Michigan's Chris Cameron. Ruggeri, the reigning NCAA high bar champion, had a combined score from the two days of competition of 30.500 on the event, edging out Olympian Joey Hagerty (30.450) for the national title.
This marks the third weekly honor for Ruggeri, who earned his previous two awards in consecutive weeks during his freshman campaign in February of 2008.
SPRING NAMED TO SENIOR NATIONAL TEAM
Third-year assistant coach Justin Spring earned his eighth overall selection to the U.S. Senior National Team on Feb. 9. The 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist was able to petition for a spot after competing at the Olympics this past summer. The 15 members on the team retain their national team status until the 2009 Visa Championships in August. Members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team that won the team bronze medal who petitioned for a spot on the team are: Artemev, Bhavsar, Hagerty, Horton, Spring and Tan.
INJURY BUG HITS ILLINI
The Illini will be without sophomore sensation Paul Ruggeri this weekend as the three-time All-American underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee on Feb. 11. Ruggeri suffered the injury on the first day of the Winter Cup competition while performing on vault. The Manlius, N.Y., native was able to compete on the second day of the competition, taking the gold medal on high bar.
Illinois vs. Ohio State Recap
The Illini downed the Buckeyes 351.950-349.050 in their home opener on Jan. 24. Sophomore standout Paul Ruggeri captured the all-around title edging out the Buckeyes' Jake Bateman 87.950-87.050. As a team, the Illini edged out the Buckeyes on four events and tied for the floor title. The Orange and Blue recorded 14 top-three finishes in its season-high score of 351.950. The Fighting Illini won four individual event titles on pommel horse, parallel bars, high bar and the all-around competition.
2009 WINDY CITY RECAP
The No. 4 Illinois men's gymnastics team started off the 2009 season with a solid second place finish at the Windy City Invite Saturday night in Chicago. The Orange and Blue posted a team score of 342.250 to finish behind only No. 6 Michigan (346.100) and ahead of No.8 Minnesota (341.400), No. 3 Ohio State (337.650), No. 12 UIC (327.700) and No. 9 Iowa (325.900).
RUGGERI and RIBEIRO EARN PRESEASON ALL-BIG TEN HONORS
The sensational sophomore duo of 2008 NCAA high bar champion Paul Ruggeri and 2008 Big Ten pommel horse champion Daniel Ribeiro were 2009 preseason All-Big Ten selections, as voted on by the coaches. Illinois, as a team, was selected third in the conference in the preseason poll.
This season the Illini have six newcomers on the roster. Joining the Orange and Blue in 2009 is one of the nation's most highly-touted freshman signing class. The class includes Tyler Mizoguchi (Houston, Tex./Taylor), C.J. Padera (Winfield, Ill./Wheaton North), Austin Phillips (Mahwah, N.J./St. Joseph Regional), Maxwell Portocarrero (Hampton Bays, N.Y./Riverhead), Devin Regan (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville), and Anthony Sacramento (Libertyville, Ill./Carmel Catholic).