#6 Illinois Heads to Last Regular Season Meet
March 12, 2014
The sixth-ranked Fighting Illini men’s gymnastics team will travel to Lincoln, Neb. this weekend to take on Nebraska, Minnesota, Air Force, and Iowa at 4 p.m. CT on Saturday, March 15. This is the last regular-season meet for the Illini before heading back to Nebraska for the Big Ten Championship Meet.
SCOUTING THE COMPETITION
No. 11 Nebraska will be coming off a loss against No. 2 Oklahoma this past weekend, 439.700-422.050. The Illini have faced the Huskers earlier this season in Minneapolis, Minn. at a tri-meet with Minnesota. The Huskers came in third, while the Illini finished second. Nebraska sits at No. 11 in the coaches poll and 12 in the season average rankings. As a team, the Huskers rank 12 on floor, vault, and high bar (71.617, 71.217, 69.967), 11 on pommel horse and still rings (69.300, 71.983), and 10 on parallel bars (70.300). Individually, two Nebraska gymnasts hold spots in the top 20 rankings: Grant Perdue at No. 11 on floor (15.033) and Robbie Kocks at No. 7 (15.233) on still rings.
The highest ranked opponent Illinois will be facing this weekend is No. 5 Minnesota. In their last meeting, the Illini lost to Minnesota by less than three points. Minnesota defeated Iowa and Brockport in a tri-meet last weekend. Minnesota is ranked 5th in both the coaches and season average rankings. As a team, the Gophers rank No. 3 on floor (73.733), No. 9 on pommel horse (70.367), No. 8 on still rings (72.767), No. 7 on vault (73.550), No. 5 on parallel bars (72.350), and No. 6 on high bar (71.383). Individually, Minnesota gymnasts hold twelve spots on the top-20 rankings. In the top-ten, Ellis Mannon holds the No. 7 spot on pommel horse (14.833), Zach Chase is No 6 on vault(15.067), and Matt Frey and Steve Jaciuk are 8 and 9, respectively, on parallel bars (14.950, 14.917).
This will be the first meeting between Air Force and Illinois this season. The Falcons last meet was March 2 against UIC, where Air Force was victorious, 439.700-407.650. Air Force is ranked 10th on both the coaches poll and season average rankings. As a team, the Falcons sit at No. 8 on floor (72.750), No. 6 on pommel horse (71.017), No. 9 on still rings (72.633), No. 11 on vault (72.083), No. 11 on parallel bars (70.050), and No. 11 on high bar (70.417). Individually, Air Force gymnasts hold four spots on the top-20 rankings: Timmy Wang is No. 6 on pommel horse (14.850) and No. 3 in the all-around (86.000), Nick Owen is No. 19 on pommel horse (14.567), and Tyler Huebner is No. 9 on still rings (15.217).
Iowa and Illinois have met once this season in a dual meet, where the Illini came out of Iowa City with a win, 433.350-420.300. The Hawkeyes last competed against Minnesota, where they lost 427.350-426.450. Iowa is ranked No. 9 on the coaches poll and No. 7 on the season average rankings. As a team, the Hawkeyes rank 6 on floor (72.883), 12 on pommel horse (68.350), 4 on still rings (73.817), 10 on vault (72.350), 7 on parallel bars (71.367), and 3 on high bar (72.550). Individually, Iowa gymnasts hold nine spots on the top-20 rankings. Matthew McGrath is No. 7 on vault (15.033), Mitchell Landau is No. 3 on high bar (15.167), and Jack Boyle is No. 5 in the all-around (84.700).
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
The Illini are ranked sixth in the national team rankings with an average score of 432.400 and in the coaches poll. Illinois holds positions in the top ten of all six events, coming in at No. 7 on floor (72.883), No. 5 on pommel horse (71.500), No. 5 on still rings (73.767), No. 6 on vault (73.583), No. 8 on parallel bars (71.067), and No. 9 on high bar (71.100).
Individually, three Illini hold two No. 1 spots in events; Chandler Eggleston on vault (15.267) and Jordan Valdez on high bar (15.217). Matt Foster is No. 13 on pommel horse (14.667), followed by teammate Chad Mason in 18th (14.567). Fred Hartville is not far behind Eggleston on vault at No. 3 (15.117). Mike Wilner holds on to his still rings ranking at No. 12 (15.133), and Jordan Valdez is the only Illini to hold a spot on two different events, 1st on high bar and 15th on parallel bars.
LAST TIME OUT
The Fighting Illini hosted UIC for the annual Gym Jam promotion this past weekend. Illinois defeated UIC 427.850-401.900. As a team, the Illini won on pommel horse (72.700), still rings (73.100), vault (74.600), parallel bars (70.250), and high bar (70.350). Individually, Illinois gymnasts took every event title. Fred Hartville won the floor title (14.250), Cole Smith took home the pommel horse title (14.900), Joey Peters won rings (14.950), Chandler Eggleston won on vault (15.400), Cameron Rogers took home the parallel bar title (14.900), and Jordan Valdez took the high bar title (14.850).
BIG TEN FRESHMAN AND GYMNAST OF THE WEEK
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 at the Big Ten Championships on March 28 in Lincoln, Neb.