Men's Gymnastics
#7 Illinois Hosts #15 UIC for Gym Jam This Weekend

This is the third meeting between UIC and the Illini this season
This is the third meeting between UIC and the Illini this season

March 6, 2014

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The seventh-ranked Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team will return to Huff Hall Saturday afternoon for their last home meet of the season. The Illini will host UIC in the annual Gym Jam promotion along with the women's gymnastics team this Saturday at 4 p.m. The Orange and Blue have met UIC twice already this season, once in the season opener where the Illini won 413.100-393.450 and again the following weekend at the Windy City Invitational, where Illinois tied for second and UIC came in 6th.


Gym Jam is the big promotional event of the season for Illini gymnastics, this year presented by WCIA. Be sure to arrive early to take advantage of the great Gym Jam promotions going on Saturday. There will be free Illini gymnastics sunglasses for the first 500 fans and free food available for the first 1,000 fans in attendance. 


Both the men's and women's teams will be welcoming back former gymnasts for Alumni Weekend, as all returnees will be acknowledged prior to the meet. We will be honoring the 1990 Big Ten Champion women's team and the following from the men's side: 1988 Big Ten Championship team, the 1989 NCAA and Big Ten Championship team and the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Big Ten Championship team.


On Saturday, the Illini will honor the five seniors from the men's team, Andrew Margolis, Chad Mason, Cameron Rogers, Cole Smith, and Alex Varga, for their hard work and contributions to the program over the last four years. The five seniors were members of the 2012 NCAA Championship team and have helped the Illini to two Big Ten titles.

Team Captain Andrew Margolis has been a competed on still rings during his career with the Illini. During the 2012-13 season, Margolis set his personal best on still rings at the Metroplex Challenge, where he came in 6th with a score of 15.050 and helped the Illini to a 3rd place finish.

Lake Balboa, Calif. native Chad Mason has worked hard on pommel horse for the Illini, being honored as an All-American on the apparatus in 2012, the year he finished in third place at the NCAA Team Finals. Mason set a career high this season on horse, taking the title with a score of 15.350 and helping the Illini to a win over Iowa 433.350-420.300. 

Cameron Rogers has worked hard for the team in and out of the gym in his four years here, being named Academic All-Big Ten in 2012 and 2013 and Big Ten Distinguished Scholar in 2013. The all-around competitor set two of his personal best scores during the 2012 NCAA Championship. Rogers scored 14.650 on floor during the Session II Qualifier and a 14.650 on pommel horse during the Team Finals. This season the Charlotte, N.C. native set a career record in the all-around, scoring 81.650 against Ohio State.

Pommel horse competitor Cole Smith is another Academic All-Big Ten honoree (2012, 13) and has been a consistent gymnast during his time at Illinois. The Santa Rosa, Calif. native also set a career best at the NCAA team finals in Norman, Okla., coming in fifth place on the apparatus with a score of 15.250. 

Alex Varga, the second of three Team Captains this season, has had an impressive career as an Illini. The 2013 co-MVP Has been honored as a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar (2012, 13), Academic All-Big Ten (2012, 13), CGA All-America Scholar Athlete (2013, 13), and Team Scholar-Athlete Award Winner (2012-13) during his time with the Orange and Blue. Varga set his vault career high (15.050) at the NCAA Team Finals, and his floor high (15.400) at the 2013 Big Ten Team Finals.


The Illini are ranked seventh in the national team rankings, with an average score of 434.033, and in the coaches poll. Illinois holds positions in the top ten of all six events, coming in at No. 7 on floor (73.400), No. 7 on pommel horse (71.500), No. 5 on still rings (74.433), No. 7 on vault (73.733), No. 8 on parallel bars (72.183), and No. 10 on high bar (71.617). 

Individually, two Illini hold No. 1 spots in events; Chandler Eggleston on floor (15.467) and Jordan Valdez on high bar (15.450). Chandler Eggleston holds the 2 spot on vault (15.267), followed closely by Fred Hartville in 3rd (15.233), C.J. Maestas is ranked No. 3 on rings (16.017) and No. 4 in the all-around (87.417), and Mike Wilner is No. 8 on still rings (15.450). Overall, the Illini hold ten spots on the top-20 lists.


The Fighting Illini traveled to Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions in their last team meet. Illinois was defeated by PSU 436.050-431.150. Individually, Chandler Eggleston took home the floor exercise title (15.550), Matt Foster won on pommel horse (14.800), and C.J. Maestas earned his fifth rings title of the season (15.300). 


Chandler Eggleston was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Feb. 10 after taking home two third place finishes on floor (14850) and high bar (14.400) and a second place finish on vault (14.950). This marks the first Illini men's gymnast to be named Freshman of the Week in five consecutive weeks.

The Illini swept the Big Ten honors the week of Feb. 10, with C.J. Maestas being named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week for the first time this season. Maestas led the team with three titles on parallel bars (14.850), all-around (89.200), and still rings, where he set the NCAA record under the new scoring system established in 2008. The previous record, set by Dave Sender of Stanford in 2008, was 16.350. Maestas also placed second on the floor exercise (14.850).


The Illini return to action next weekend in Lincoln, Neb. for their quad-meet against Nebraska, Minnesota, Air Force, and Iowa at 4 p.m. CT on March 15.