#4 Illini Set to Compete at 2012 NCAA Championships
April 17, 2012
#4 Illinois at the 2012 NCAA ChampionshipsNorman, Okla. // Lloyd Noble Center
Thursday, April 19 // Qualifying Session II // 7 pm CT | Watch | Live Stats
The Orange and Blue will compete in the second session alongside No. 1 Oklahoma (354.525), No. 5 Minnesota (346.900), No. 8 California (344.762), No. 9 Temple (342.425) and No. 12 Air Force (336.312), while the early session features No. 2 Penn State (354.200), No. 3 Stanford (352.512), No. 6 Michigan (345.512), No. 7 Ohio State (345.017), No. 10 Nebraska (341.587) and No. 11 Iowa (338.325).
Three teams along with the the top three all-around competitors not on one of the qualifying teams and the top three individuals on each event not already qualified on a team or as an all-around competitor will advance from each pre-qualifying session to the finals session on Friday.
2011 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS RECAP
The following night, Ribeiro took home his second NCAA title on pommel horse, while Mizoguchi claimed the first of his career on parallel bars. Ribeiro, who also claimed the pommel horse title as a sophomore in 2009, tied with defending national champion Alex Naddour of Oklahoma for the top spot with a 15.550, while Mizoguchi recorded a 15.200 to secure his first NCAA title and Illinois' first on the event since Paul Ruggeri in 2009. It also marked the second time in three years Illinois produced at least two national champions.
Four Illini earned All-America accolades for finishing in the top eight. In addition to Mizoguchi and Ribeiro, Sacramento and Padera also earned All-America honors, as Sacramento tied for second on rings (15.400) and Padera tied for eighth on parallel bars (14.250). It was the second straight All-America accolade for Sacramento, while it was the first for Padera and third for both Ribeiro and Mizoguchi.
ILLINI IN THE RANKINGS
Individually, redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri tops the list on high bar and vault and is third on floor, fourth in the all-around and seventh on parallel bars. Freshman C.J. Maestas is second on rings, third in the all-around and on high bar and fourth on floor, while junior Austin Phillips is sixth on high bar. Sophomore Jordan Valdez is seventh on high bar, and freshman Mike Wilner ranks 10th on rings. Seniors Kyle Moe, C.J. Padera and Anthony Sacramento crack the top 20 on various events as well.
LAST TIME OUT - Illini Win 4th Straight Big Ten Title
Freshman C.J. Maestas led the way, securing the all-around title with a career-high 89.500, making him the first Big Ten all-around champion for Illinois since Wes Haagensen took the crown in 2007. The win marked Maestas' team-leading fifth all-around title this season. Redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri took third with an 86.850.
The following night, Maestas earned Big Ten Gymnast and Freshman of the Year accolades, while Ruggeri captured the conference crowns on vault and floor during individual event finals. The awards continued for the Orange and Blue, as head coach Justin Spring garnered his third straight Big Ten Coach of the Year honor, and Maestas and Ruggeri earned first-team All-Big Ten recognition.
ILLINI AT THE TOP
Redshirt senior Paul Ruggeri boasts five wins on high bar and seven on vault. The seven-time All-American won high bar at Windy City and both events at Iowa and in the Oklahoma-Michigan tri-meet. The Manlius, N.Y., native also won on floor, parallel bars and vault at Penn State before adding titles in the all-around and on high bar and vault in his Senior Night showdown with Ohio State. Ruggeri followed that up by winning the high bar, vault, floor and all-around competitions at Nebraska and recently took the floor and vault Big Ten crowns after winning vault during team finals.
Sophomore Jordan Valdez and junior Yoshi Mori each secured two titles apiece against UIC. Valdez took the crown on high bar and parallel bars, while Mori won the all-around and floor competitions. Valdez recently added another parallel bars title at Iowa, while Mori won on pommel horse against Ohio State and at Iowa.
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 and at Iowa.
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 also taking home the conference accolade one week earlier (Jan. 30). 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 three straight titles March 5, 12 and 19 after solid showings at Penn State, Nebraska and Iowa. Maestas' six newcomer accolades are the most by a Big Ten gymnast since the award's inception in 2010.
RUGGERI AT COTTBUS WORLD CUP
In prelims, Ruggeri topped the high bar leaderboard with a 15.725 and ranked fourth on vault (15.900). The hardware marks Ruggeri's third international medal during the 2011-12 season, as the seven-time All-American won gold on high bar and silver on parallel bars at the 2011 Pan American Games last October.
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.
MIZOGUCHI REMOVED FROM ROSTER
"Tyler is an outstanding athlete and his gymnastics skills will be greatly missed," Spring said. "But we now need to focus on the postseason, competing well and achieving our goals at both the Big Ten and NCAA Championships."
The removal came nearly three weeks ago, and Mizoguchi has competed in only one meet since Winter Cup, which took place the first week in February. Mizoguchi will still have access to the academic services provided to the gymnastics team.
"I think it's best for Tyler to focus on school at this time," Spring said. "He will have the academic support he needs, and I wish him the best in his endeavors."
INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS AT PAN AM GAMES
Ruggeri and Maestas each took home individual hardware, as Ruggeri captured gold on high bar and silver on parallel bars. Maestas added a bronze medal on rings and just missed the podium with a fourth-place finish in the all-around.