Men's Gymnastics
#3 Illini to Host #5 Ohio State for Gym Jam, Senior Night

The Illini will host Gym Jam and Senior Night Friday at 7 p.m. at Huff Hall.
The Illini will host Gym Jam and Senior Night Friday at 7 p.m. at Huff Hall.

March 2, 2012

Complete Notes

The third-ranked Illinois men's gymnastics team will return to Huff Hall Friday night for Gym Jam sponsored by FOX 55/27, hosting No. 5 Ohio State in a conference showdown, beginning at 7 p.m. CT. The event marks the final home dual meet of the season for the Orange and Blue, who will honor seniors Paul Ruggeri, Tyler Mizoguchi, Kyle Moe, C.J. Padera, Devin Regan and Anthony Sacramento immediately following the competition. The meet also will feature the No. 21-ranked Illini women in a clash with Kentucky.

The Buckeyes are coming off a 355.500-347.200 loss to Penn State last weekend, despite posting season highs on three events. Ohio State ranks fifth overall with a three-score average of 346.483. The squad is in the top five on two events, ranking third on floor (59.367) and fourth on pommel horse (57.517). Blaize Monks leads the Buckeyes, checking in at No. 3 on high bar, while Ty Echard is tied for fifth on pommel horse. The Illini have met Ohio State once this season, as the Buckeyes (344.500) edged the Orange and Blue (341.900; 2nd) for first place at the Windy City Invitational in January.

This week's GymInfo team and individual rankings are based on the average of each team's top three scores. The Illini check in at No. 3 overall (349.533) and are in the top five on four events, ranking first on high bar (59.100) and parallel bars (57.200), third on rings (59.900) and fifth on vault (58.933).

Individually, freshman C.J. Maestas ranks in the top 10 on three events and is third in the all-around. The Illini newcomer is third on rings, fourth on high bar and eighth on floor. Paul Ruggeri tops the list on high bar and is third on vault and sixth in the all-around and on parallel bars. Sophomore Jordan Valdez ranks seventh on high bar, while junior Austin Phillips ranks eighth on the same apparatus. Seniors Tyler Mizoguchi, Anthony Sacramento, C.J. Padera and Kyle Moe, junior Yoshi Mori and freshman Michael Wilner cracked the top 20 on various events.

The University of Illinois gymnastics teams will host "Gym Jam" presented by FOX 55/27, featuring both the Illinois men's and women's gymnastics squads in a double dual. The No. 3 Illini men will have a Big Ten showdown with No. 5 Ohio State, while the No. 21 Illini women will square off against Kentucky. Admission is free for the meet, and free food will be provided for the first 1,000 fans beginning at 6 p.m. The event will feature "Enter to Win" contests for all fans in attendance. Fans also will have the opportunity to get team posters autographed and meet the gymnasts after the meet.

The third-ranked Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team came up just short in a 347.8-346.5 battle with No. 2 Penn State Saturday night at Rec Hall. As a team, the Orange and Blue won on parallel bars (58.700) and high bar (57.400), while individual Illini captured titles on four of six events.

Redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri led the Illini with three event titles, marking a season high for the seven-time All-American. The Manlius, N.Y., native captured the floor title for the first time in 2012 with a 15.600, matching Illinois' season best, and secured his first parallel bars crown of the year with a 15.300, which leads the team this season. Ruggeri also took home the title on vault (15.200) for the third time this season and finished the night with a season-high 87.100 to finish second in the all-around.

Freshman C.J. Maestas had a stellar night as well, capturing his third all-around crown of the year with a career-best 88.100, marking a season-high for the Orange and Blue. The Illini newcomer won his career-first high bar title with a 15.100 and finished second on both rings (15.500) and parallel bars with a season-high 14.600. Maestas also finished third on floor (14.700) and vault (14.700).

Senior Anthony Sacramento also had a solid night, finishing third on rings (14.700). Senior C.J. Padera tied for third on pommel horse (14.300), while junior Austin Phillips tied for third on parallel bars (14.500), and senior Kyle Moe (14.300) and sophomore Cameron Rogers (14.300) finished sixth on rings and parallel bars, respectively. Rogers' score marked his season high in that event.

Redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri passed current head coach and former Illini standout Justin Spring on the all-time titles list five 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. After his three-title night at Penn State, Ruggeri is now five away from former Illini great David Zeddies, who ranks third.

Fighting Illini newcomer C.J. Maestas garnered his third Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor of 2012 for his stellar performance against No. 2 Penn State in the last meet for the Orange and Blue. Despite Illinois' loss, the Corrales, N.M., native secured two titles, marking his seventh and eighth of the year, which ties redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri for the most by an Illini this season.

Maestas captured his third all-around crown of the year with a career-best 88.100, marking a season high for the Orange and Blue. The Illini newcomer also won his career-first high bar title with a 15.100 and finished second on both rings (15.500) and parallel bars, posting a season-high 14.600 on the latter apparatus. Maestas finished third on floor (14.700) and vault (14.700) and ninth on pommel horse (13.500) to round out a solid night against the Nittany Lions.

The award marks the first Big Ten Freshman of the Week for the Illini since Maestas earned the title on Jan. 23, when he was named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week as well. Maestas also took home the weekly newcomer honor on Jan. 16, which was the same week he garnered NCAA Gymnast of the Week accolades.

Fighting Illini 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 fifth time in his career 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.

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.

The Illini boast 23 titles after five meets this season. Freshman C.J. Maestas and redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri lead the Orange and Blue with eight apiece. Maestas won the all-around and rings crowns at both the Windy City Invitational and Iowa. The Illini newcomer also secured titles on pommel horse and floor at Iowa to win four titles in his second collegiate competition. The Corrales, N.M. native continued that success with wins in the all-around and on high bar at Penn State.

Meanwhile, redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri boasts three crowns on high bar and three on vault, winning high bar at Windy City and both events at Iowa and in the Oklahoma-Michigan tri-meet. The Manlius, N.Y., native also won on floor, parallel bars and vault at Penn State.

Sophomore Jordan Valdez and junior Yoshi Mori each secured two titles apiece against UIC. Valdez took the crown on high bar and parallel bars, while Mori won the all-around and floor competitions.

Seniors Tyler Mizoguchi, Anthony Sacramento and Kyle Moe round out the list of Orange and Blue title-winners. Mizoguchi took first on parallel bars at Iowa, while Sacramento tied Maestas for the rings crown at Windy City, and Moe won on rings (15.000) against UIC.

The Illini lead the league with six weekly conference awards this season, including three Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors and three Freshman of the Week accolades. The 2012 squad also boasts two NCAA Gymnasts of the Week.

Redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri was named both NCAA Gymnast and Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Week for the week of Feb. 6, after taking home the conference honor one week earlier (Jan. 30), marking his ninth career Big Ten weekly award and third NCAA weekly honor.

On Jan. 23, freshman C.J. Maestas earned both Big Ten Gymnast and Freshman of the Week honors after being named Big Ten Freshman and NCAA Gymnast of the Week for the week of Jan. 16. The Illini newcomer earned his third Freshman of the Week honor on Feb. 20, following a strong performance at Penn State.

The Illini will hit the road next weekend for a Big Ten clash with Nebraska on Sunday, March 11 at 1 p.m. CT.