Men's Gymnastics
#6 Illini Set to Compete at Big Ten Championships

The Illini return to action after a week of rest at NCAAs in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Illini return to action after a week of rest at NCAAs in Ann Arbor, Mich.

March 27, 2014

2014 BIG TEN MEN'S GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS // Bob Devaney Sports Center, Lincoln, Neb.

Championship Central | Notes | Live Scoring

Friday, March 28, 6 p.m. CT // Team and All-Around Finals
TV: Big Ten Network (live)

Saturday, March 29, 4 p.m. CT // Individual Event Finals
TV: Big Ten Network (live)


The Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team will compete for the Big Ten title this weekend at the 2013 Big Ten Championships, March 28-29 at the University of Nebraska's Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln. The team and all-around competition will take place Friday at 6 p.m. CT, followed by individual event finals on Saturday at 4 p.m. CT.

The Illini come in at fourth in the Big Ten team standings with a four-score average of 433.633. Ohio State tops the list with a 442.167, while Michigan (439.983) is second, and Minnesota (433.800) is third. Penn State (432.300) is ranked fifth, followed by Iowa (432.017) and Nebraska (423.500). 


Big Ten Network will broadcast both days of the Big Ten Championships live, beginning Friday at 6 p.m. CT and Saturday at 4 p.m. CT. Lisa Byington and John Roethlisberger will provide commentary both nights.


The Illini remained at No. 6 in this week's national team rankings and coaches poll, owning a four-score average of 433.633. Illinois comes in at No. 5 in the nation on pommel horse (71.733) and vault (74.100) as a team.

Jordan Valdez leads the nation on high bar (15.33) and comes in at eleventh on parallel bars (14.933). Freshman Chandler Eggleston sits at No. 2 on vault (15.267) and holds the fourth slot on floor (15.383). Fred Hartville is also ranked on vault and is ranked sixth on the apparatus (15.150). C.J. Maestas comes in at No. 3 on both still rings (15.700) and in all-around (86.983) and is tied for tenth on floor (15.133). Mike Wilner comes in at No. 12 on still rings (15.267) and Matt Foster rounds out the individually ranked Illini, sitting at No. 17 on pommel horse (14.717).


Last season at the Big Ten Championships, the Illini came out of competition in fifth place with a team score of 424.450. During the team competition, Fred Hartville posted a 15.550 on vault, marking the highest-scoring vault in Illinois history and the second-highest in the NCAA that season. Mike Wilner was the only other Illini to earn a title during the team competition, scoring 72.550 on still rings. The Illini sent six gymnasts to event finals, Alex Varga and Vince Smurro to floor exercise, Logan Bradley for pommel horse, Wilner for rings, Hartville for vault, and Cameron Rogers for parallel bars.

During the individual event finals, Hartville continued his winning streak, taking the title on vault (15.425). Wilner placed second on rings with a 15.450, just five hundredths of a point shy of first place. Varga tied for fourth on floor (15.200), Rogers placed fifth on parallel bars (14.475), and Smurro placed sixth on floor (15.025).


The Fighting Illini wrapped up the regular season at the Nebraska Invitational along with Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Air Force. The Illini took second at the meet with a score of 434.850. Three Illinois gymnasts came away with titles, including freshman Matt Foster who scored a career high on pommel horse (14.950). Jordan Valdez also had a career high for the parallel bars title (15.300), and C.J. Maestas took home the all-around title with a score of 87.900. The Hawkeyes edged out the Illini for first place at the meet.


This meet will mark the sixth week of an NCAA-wide scoring change. In the beginning of the season, the scoring format featured six gymnasts competing for each team on each event. Until March 1, all teams could drop their lowest score on each apparatus, counting only five of six scores. As of March 1, only five gymnasts can compete on each event, and every competitor affects the team total.


Chandler Eggleston was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week five consecutive weeks this season (Jan. 13, 20, 27, Feb. 3, 10). Eggleston is the first Illini gymnast to be named Freshman of the Week in five consecutive weeks. C.J. Maestas is the only Illini to have accumulated more Freshman of the Week honors, earning six in 2012. Eggleston has earned five floor exercise titles, five vault titles, and 15 top-five finishes on the season.

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 has earned five still rings titles, one parallel bar title, and three all-around titles this season, along with 13 top-five finishes. Maestas also set an NCAA record on rings this year, scoring 16.450 at Iowa. This score also broke the school record previously held by teammate Mike Wilner.


Three 2013 Illini All-Americans returned to the Orange and Blue lineup this season, including sophomores Fred Hartville (VT) and Joey Peters (AA) and Junior Mike Wilner (SR).


Redshirt sophomore C.J. Maestas returns to the Illini this year after missing the 2013 season due to a tricep injury. In his freshman year, the three-time All-American won the conference all-around crown to earn Big Ten Gymnast and Freshman of the Year honors before capturing Illinois' first-ever NCAA still rings title.


The Illini will take another two-week break before heading to Penn State to defend their national title at the NCAA Championships, April 19-21.