No. 8 Illini Gymnasts Prepare For NCAA Championships
March 29, 2000
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The eighth-seeded Illinois men's gymnastics team prepared for the NCAA Championships today with a light workout at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The team is schuduled to compete in the first qualifying session tomorrow at 1 p.m. CT.
The Illini will compete for one of the top three spots in a six-team competition in order to advance to Friday's NCAA team finals. Illinois is the No. 8 seed which will battle No. 1 Michigan, No. 4 Ohio State, No. 5 Penn State, No. 9 Nebraska and No. 12 Massachusetts in the 1 p.m. bracket. In the nightcap at 7 p.m., No. 6 Iowa will host No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 California, No. 5 Michigan State, No. 10 Brigham Young and No. 11 Stanford.
Illinois will have senior All-American Travis Romagnoli back in full health for the competition after the team captain sat out midseason meets with a fracture in his foot. Romagnoli competed in the Big Ten Championships as his first all-around competition since the injury and placed eighth overall. The Illini will also look to junior all-arounder Leo Oka, who was an NCAA qualifier last season. Junior Eric Nishimoto, who competed at NCAAs last year on vault will also return to the lineup after being hampered by a sprained ankle. Nishimoto's return guarantees the Illini a full lineup for tomorrow's competition.
"The team has been very focused this week in workouts and it has amazed me how much the seem to have improved from the Big Ten meet," Illinois head coach Yoshi Hayasaki said. "We will be competing in a very tough bracket, but this team has the talent to be one of the top three teams and competing for a national title on Friday."
HONORS AND AWARDS: Illinois head coach Yoshi Hayasaki was named the Central Region Coach of the Year as voted by region coaches for his team's performance this season. He will also be honored at the NCAA Championships for his long-time service to the sport of gymnastics with the Honor Coach Award. The award is given to coaches that have coached for over twenty five years. It is in recognition of his service in coaching and developing gymnastics for over twenty five years and for outstanding accomplishments in gymnastics. Hayasaki will also be presenting awards to the individual champions at Saturday night's competition.