#3 Illini Wrap Up Regular Season Saturday at #12 Iowa
March 15, 2012
The Illini have met the Hawkeyes twice this season, taking a second-place finish (341.900) over sixth-place Iowa (316.800) at the Windy City Invitational on Jan. 14 before defeating them head-to-head, 352.300-326.200, the following weekend at Iowa.
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
Individually, Paul Ruggeri tops the list on high bar and is second on vault, third on floor, fourth in the all-around and sixth on parallel bars. Freshman C.J. Maestas is second on high bar, fourth on rings and sixth on floor and in the all-around. Junior Austin Phillips ranks ninth on high bar and 10th on parallel bars, while freshman Mike Wilner is ninth on rings. Seniors Kyle Moe, C.J. Padera and Anthony Sacramento and sophomore Jordan Valdez crack the top 20 on various events as well.
#3 ILLINI DOMINATE #6 MINNESOTA, #10 NEBRASKA
Ruggeri captured titles on three events and in the all-around, which marks the third consecutive meet in which the seven-time All-American claimed at least three crowns, bringing his season total to a team-leading 15. The Manlius, N.Y., native finished first on floor for the second time this season with a personal-best 15.900 and won on vault for the fifth time this year, scoring a 15.400, which matches the Illinois record.
Ruggeri also secured his fifth high bar title of 2012 with a season-high 16.100 to earn an all-around score of 89.800, which leads the team this year. With his wins, Ruggeri moved into third place on the Illinois all-time titles list with 70, passing former standout David Zeddies (68).
Freshman C.J. Maestas had a solid night as well, capturing his fifth rings title this season with a 15.450. The Illini newcomer also took second on high bar (14.850), while sophomore Cole Smith placed second on pommel horse with a career-high 14.550.
Senior C.J. Padera posted a pair of top-four finishes, placing third on parallel bars (14.900) and tying for fourth on pommel horse (14.300). Meanwhile, freshman Mike Wilner finished third on rings (15.000), followed by sophomore Cameron Rogers in fourth (14.950) on the same apparatus. Classmate Alex Varga rounded out the top-four finishers for the Orange and Blue, taking fourth with a 14.850 on vault.
MAESTAS TABBED BIG TEN FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
Maestas captured the crown on rings (15.450), marking his 12th title overall this season and fifth on that apparatus. The Illini newcomer also took second on high bar (14.850) and sixth on pommel horse (14.100).
The award marks Maestas' fifth Freshman of the Week accolade, which is the most for an Illini all-time and passes current junior Yoshi Mori, who took the title four times in his freshman season.
WINTER CUP TO SENIOR NATIONAL TEAM
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.
ILLINI AT THE TOP
Meanwhile, freshman C.J. Maestas boasts 12 titles, winning 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. Maestas won the rings title on day one at the Winter Cup Challenge and continued that success with wins in the all-around and on high bar at Penn State. The Corrales, N.M. native recently added titles on floor and rings against Ohio State and won on rings at Nebraska.
Seniors Tyler Mizoguchi, Anthony Sacramento and Kyle Moe and junior Austin Phillips 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. Moe won on rings (15.000) against UIC, and Phillips won on parallel bars against Ohio State.
WEEKLY HONORS FOR THE ILLINI
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 third NCAA weekly honor. The Manlius, N.Y., native earned his third conference honor of the season and 10th of his career on March 5.
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 and took home back-to-back titles on March 5 and 12 after solid showings at Penn State and Nebraska.