The No. 7 Illini will compete against No. 5 Ohio State on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT in Columbus, Ohio.
Feb. 22, 2013
The defending NCAA champion and seventh-ranked Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team will travel to Columbus, Ohio, this weekend to take on the fifth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday at 3 p.m. CT. The Illini lead the all-time series, 97-72-2, but have struggled against the Buckeyes this season. The teams have met twice in 2013, tying for second at the Windy City Invitational in mid-January before runner-up Ohio State edged third-place Illinois in the Metroplex Challenge later that month.
SCOUTING OHIO STATE
The Buckeyes are ranked fifth in the nation with a three-score average of 432.450 after falling to then-No. 3 Michigan, 446.150-435.650, last weekend in Columbus. OSU is in the top five on four events, checking in at No. 3 on both floor (74.450) and pommel horse (72.617) and No. 4 on vault (73.667) and high bar (71.833). Individually, Michael Newburger is ranked first nationally on pommel horse with a three-score average of 15.433. The squad holds 12 spots on the individual top-20 lists on various events.
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
After four meets, the Illini check in at No. 7 in the national team rankings with a three-score average of 428.150. Illinois is ranked in the top five on two events, coming in at No. 4 on rings (74.550) and No. 5 on pommel horse (71.750).
Individually, freshman Mike Wilner leads the nation on rings with a three-score average of 15.467. Fellow newcomer Joey Peters checks in at No. 4 in the all-around (84.417), No. 13 on rings (15.050) and No. 18 on parallel bars (14.583), while senior Yoshi Mori is ranked seventh in the all-around (82.917) and 11th on pommel horse (14.867). Freshman Fred Hartville is seventh on vault (14.967), and classmate Logan Bradley is 10th on pommel horse (14.900), rounding out the Illini in the top 10. Overall, eight Illinois gymnasts hold a combined total of 11 spots on the top-20 lists.
LAST TIME OUT
The Illini came up just short in a 428.450-428.400 battle with No. 8 Iowa in front of a packed house of 2,316 fans during Gym Jam last Saturday evening at Huff Hall. Freshman Logan Bradley captured his first career event title with a win on pommel horse, while sophomore Mike Wilner and newcomer Fred Hartville each earned their second titles of 2013 with wins on rings and vault, respectively.
PAIR OF BIG TEN FRESHMEN OF THE WEEK
Fighting Illini newcomer Joey Peters garnered his first career Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor on Jan. 28 after winning the all-around at the Metroplex Challenge. There, Peters placed third on high bar (14.800) and tied for third on rings (15.300), earning season highs on both apparatuses. The Danville, Pa., native captured his second all-around title in three meets with an 84.500. The award marked Illinois' first Freshman of the Week honor since C.J. Maestas earned the title on March 19, 2012.
Classmate Fred Hartville earned his first career Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor on Feb. 18 for his strong performance in No. 7 Illinois' 428.450-428.400 loss to No. 8 Iowa. Hartville captured the vault title with a 15.100, marking the second-highest vault score by an Illini gymnast this season. The Atlanta native also placed second on floor with a career-high 14.750, which is the third-best floor score for the Orange and Blue in 2013.The award marked the first time since 2011 and second time since the award's inception that two Illini gymnasts earned the honor in the same season. Current juniors Jordan Valdez and Alex Varga were each named Big Ten Freshman of the Week in 2011.
Former Fighting Illini All-American gymnast Paul Ruggeri retained his spot on the 15-man U.S. senior national team on Feb. 11, following his solid performance at the U.S. Winter Cup Challenge. Current Illini Jordan Valdez and Yoshi Mori each finished in the top 20 on two apparatuses, while volunteer assistant coach and 2010 graduate Luke Stannard placed in the top 10 on two events.
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).Valdez missed the Iowa meet with an injury and will miss this weekend's meet with Ohio State as well.
The Orange and Blue will return home next weekend to host No. 1 Penn State on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT. The Illini men will battle the Nittany Lions alongside the Illini women, marking Illinois' second and last co-ed home meet of the season.