Illini Gymnasts Celebrate Season at Annual Awards Banquet
April 28, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini men's and women's gymnastics teams celebrated the 2013 season Sunday afternoon at their annual Awards Banquet, held at the I-Hotel in Champaign. Freshman Fred Hartville and junior Alex Varga were named Most Valuable for the men, while senior Alina Weinstein won the same award for the women. Hartville and Weinstein also garnered Most Outstanding honors for their contributions throughout the season.
Hartville became Illinois' first-ever freshman national vault champion after taking home the title at the NCAA Championships last weekend. The Atlanta native also won the Big Ten vault title and earned All-America and first-team All-Big Ten honors. Hartville led the squad with nine titles this season, including a team-best eight on vault. With his eight titles, the newcomer ranks fifth on the single-season vault titles list at Illinois and first in the same category among Orange and Blue freshmen. Hartville posted the highest vault score in Illini history and second-highest in the NCAA this year with a 15.550 at the Big Ten Championships.
Varga was a mainstay in the floor lineup all season and competed on vault in nearly every meet. He advanced to Big Ten Event Finals on floor with a career-high 15.400 at the Big Ten Championships. Varga was a key leader throughout the year, both on the floor and in the classroom, claiming the Scholar-Athlete Award for the second straight season.
Alina Weinstein's senior season will forever be remembered as she broke the Illinois floor (9.975), vault (10.0) and all-around records (39.625), with the perfect 10 being just the second in program history. Weinstein finished the year with 26 individual titles, which is the second most ever in a single season. In addition, she won three regional titles in Morgantown, became the fourth NCAA individual event finalist in Illini history and is one of the four Honda Award finalists which is given out to the best gymnast in the country.
Redshirt freshman Jacob Tilsley garnered Most Improved honors after recovering from a 2012 injury. Tilsley excelled throughout the 2013 season, competing on both pommel horse and vault in nearly every meet for the Illini.
Most improved on the women's side went to Jordan Naleway. After competing in just four bars routines in her freshman season, Naleway performed in every meet on both bars and floor. Furthermore, the Vernon Hills native posted new career highs of 9.8 in each event. Naleway also stepped up for the Orange and Blue at the Big Ten Championships where she added a 9.825 beam score in just her second performance on that apparatus in her collegiate career.
Junior Cameron Rogers earned the Yoshi Hayasaki Consistency Award after hitting 30 of his 34 routines this season. The Charlotte, N.C., native advanced to Big Ten Event Finals on parallel bars for the first time in his career.
The co-most consistent beam award this year went to sophomore Sunny Kato and freshman Giana O'Connor. Kato, who missed all of last season due to injury, bounced back in a major way, setting a career high of 9.9 in the event, a mark she hit twice. Kato garnered two titles on beam, finishing in first at Michigan and at Missouri. Sunny was clutch on the event during the postseason, averaging a 9.84.
Consistency was Giana O'Connor's middle name when it came to the balance beam, hitting all 14 of her routines and setting a career high of 9.85. The freshman also had the tall task of leading off on beam, even on the big stage of NCAA Championships where she posted a 9.75. O'Connor took home two titles in 2013, both on beam.
Varga, sophomore and three-time All-American C.J. Maestas and junior Andrew Margolis were chosen to be team captains for the 2013-14 season. Freshman Joey Peters, an All-American in the all-around, earned the Fighting Illini Attitude Award.
Despite battling injuries all season, the Illini men advanced to NCAA Team Finals for the 11th straight year, finishing sixth in the nation. The squad produced four All-Americans, three All-Big Ten honorees and a national and Big Ten vault champion.
The women finished 11th in the country after earning their third NCAA Championships berth in the past five years. The squad placed second at the Morgantown Regional and placed first in session at the Big Ten Championships and fourth overall with a season high 196.475. The team can also boast the fact that they recorded scores in all four events that rank in the top-5 all-time in school history.
2013 Men's Gymnastics Award Winners
Most Outstanding: Fred Hartville
Most Improved: Jacob Tilsley
Fighting Illini Attitude Award: Joey Peters
Scholar-Athlete Award: Alex Varga
2013 Women's Gymnastics Award Winners
Most Valuable: Alina Weinstein
Most Outstanding: Alina Weinstein
Most Improved: Jordan Naleway
Scholar Athlete: Elise Gill