#5 Illini Travel to NCAA Championships
April 9, 2014
2014 NCAA MEN'S GYMNASTICS CHAMPIONSHIPS // Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Thursday, April 10, Noon CT // Team Qualifier Session I
Friday, April 11, 6 p.m. CT // Team and All-Around Finals
Saturday, April 12, 6 p.m. CT // Individual Event Finals
The fifth ranked Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team will travel to Ann Arbor, Mich. this weekend to compete in the 2014 NCAA Championships, Thursday through Saturday at the University of Michigan's Crisler Center. Illinois boasts a 434.063 national qualifying average and will compete in the afternoon qualifying session on Thursday, beginning at Noon CT. Team and all-around finals will take place Friday at 6 p.m., followed by individual event finals on Saturday at 6 p.m.
The national qualifier will include both an afternoon and evening session. Illinois will compete in session one alongside No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 4 Stanford, No. 8 Iowa, No. 9 California and No. 12 William and Mary. The second session will begin at 6 p.m. and will feature No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 6 Penn State, No. 7 Minnesota, No. 10 Air Force, and No. 11 Nebraska.
The top three teams from each session will advance to Saturday's team finals. The top three all-around competitors who are not on a qualifying team and the top three gymnasts on each event who did not qualify on a team or as an all-arounder will advance to finals as well.
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
The Illini rose to No. 5 in the final national team rankings and coaches poll, owning a national qualifying average of 434.063. Illinois comes in at No. 6 on floor exercise (73.375), No. 4 on pommel horse (71.738), No. 5 on still rings (74.100), No. 7 on vault and high bar (73.550, 71.275), and No. 8 on parallel bars (71.675).
Jordan Valdez leads the nation on high bar (15.306) and comes in at fifth on parallel bars (15.138). Freshman Chandler Eggleston sits at No. 2 on floor exercise (15.425) and holds the fourth slot on vault (15.163). Fred Hartville is also ranked on vault and is ranked tenth on the apparatus (15.025). C.J. Maestas comes in at No. 3 on both still rings (15.781) and in all-around (87.225) and is No. 8 on floor (15.175). Chad Mason and Matt Foster hold the No. 13 and No. 16 spots on pommel horse (14.738, 14.662), and Mike Wilner rounds out the individually ranked Illini, sitting at No. 12 on still rings (15.267).
2013 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS
Last season at the NCAA Championships, the Illini came out of team competition sixth if sixth with a season low team score of 422.550. During the team competition, Fred Hartville came in second on vault with a 15.300 to qualify for individual finals. The Illini also sent Austin Phillips (high bar), Mike Wilner (rings), and Vince Smurro (floor) to individual finals.
During the individual event finals, Hartville continued his winning streak, taking the title on vault (15.425). Fifth-year senior Austin Phillips had a solid day as well, placing second on high bar second straight All-America accolade in his final performance as an Illini (14.950). Sophomore Mike Wilner secured All-America status with a fifth-place finish on rings, posting a 15.150.
LAST TIME OUT - ILLINI PLACE FOURTH AT BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS
The sixth-ranked Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team ended the Big Ten season with a fourth place finish at the 2014 Big Ten Championships in Nebraska's Bob Devaney Sports Center. Michigan took home the title with a 448.200, followed by Ohio State (441.050), Penn State (438.000), Illinois (435.350), Minnesota (429.150), Nebraska (428.150), and Iowa (425.600).
The Illini sent five gymnasts to compete in the individual finals, including freshman Chandler Eggleston, C.J. Maestas, Jordan Valdez, Joey Peters, and Chad Mason. The Illini sent four gymnasts to the podium, including Maestas who placed second on rings (15.265), Valdez who placed second on both parallel bars and high bar (15.400, 15.325), Mason who placed third on pommel horse (14.700), and Eggleston who took home the floor exercise title (15.725).
BIG TEN FLOOR EXERCISE CHAMPION
Freshman Chandler Eggleston posted a career high of 15.725 on floor to notch his sixth title on the season and first career Big Ten title during the individual event finals in Nebraska's Bob Devaney Sports Center. The Jamestown, N.C. native clinched the first floor title for the Illini at Big Tens since Paul Ruggeri in 2012. This marks the third year in a row that an Illini freshman has brought home a Big Ten title, with Fred Hartville winning on vault in 2013, and C.J. Maestas in the all-around in 2012. Illinois has boasted at least one conference champion in each of the last 12 seasons.
EVERY MAN COUNTS
In the beginning of the season, the NCAA 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.
BIG TEN FRESHMAN AND GYMNAST OF THE WEEK
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.
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.