Men's Gymnastics
Illini Just Couldn't Put It Together At NCAA Championships

Sean-Paul Crawford
Sean-Paul Crawford

April 11, 2001

If somebody asked my to sum up our competition season in one word, I wouldn't know what to say. Yeah, it was great, exciting, and fun, but I really don't think there is one simple word to explain how it all went.

In case you didn't know, we had a rough time pulling it all together at the NCAA Championships. We went into the competition with high expectations and we thought we could win it all. There were supposed to be two days of team competition, one qualifying round, and one round to determine the team champion. I really can't explain what happened, we fell apart and failed to qualify for the second round. We were supposed to qualify pretty easily but we didn't. Its really hard to explain what happened, because each and every one of us put our heart into doing our best. I guess it just wasn't our day. I really don't know what else to say except that maybe it wasn't meant to be. Maybe fate had something to do with it, live and learn........ I guess.

What happens from here? It's time to pick up and move on, well, at least for some of us. Most of us have the next couple of years to learn from our mistakes and hopefully win a national championship. What I think hurts most is that for the seven seniors leaving us there are no more chances. That has to be hard, and I know each and everyone of us on team feels bad and our heart goes out to them.

I think things did kind of have a way of working themselves out, though. Some of the seniors made it through to the second day of competition as individuals. I found that it was kind of ironic in more than one way. First, four out of the seven made it through to the second day and they finished on a high note.

The second thing that was ironic involved Jon Ham. I'm not sure that most people know what happened to "Hammy" during his junior year in high school. He was at practice one day and he had an accident on high bar in which he broke his neck. He was able to recover from the accident, and he came back to gymnastics and earned a scholarship to the U of I along with his long-time buddy and fellow senior Eric Nishimoto. Anyway, to make a long story short, it was ironic that Jon finished on high bar. He hit his routine almost perfectly. It was almost like he had a little score to settle with the event. It was good to see him walk away like that.

Each and every one of the seniors has a little story behind them. I could go on for days about each one of them (and I promise they are all good stories), but I think were going to miss them. They are a bunch of great guys.

What about the rest of us? We are taking a little bit of time off, maybe a week or so. Many people don't realize that gymnastics is a year round sport, we have to train nearly everyday to be prepared for the next competition we will be in. Some of us have competitions outside of the NCAA that we will be training for, others will be in the gym learning new skills or combinations. Now we have next year to think about. I'm not sure what to expect. A new year, and new group of freshmen, what else does it bring?............. OPPORTUNITY!

Nevertheless, this season will not be forgotten, and I am proud of all the guys on this team! GO ILLINI!!!!!!!!!!!!