All Four Illini Advance at Visa Championships
June 7, 2012
ST. LOUIS - Recent graduate Paul Ruggeri, current Illini C.J. Maestas and Yoshi Mori and volunteer assistant coach David Sender each advanced to final-day action of the Visa Championships Thursday night at St. Louis University's Chaifetz Arena. The gymnasts will compete in the final session, which will take place Saturday at 11:30 a.m. CT, for a chance to make the 15-man senior national team roster and remain in the hunt for a berth to the 2012 Olympic Games.
"I started off pretty good on pommel horse and rings," Ruggeri said. "I feel like I got a little too comfortable and let my gymnastics slip on vault and parallel bars. I added a little energy on high bar and floor, and it came out the way I wanted it. I need to go out and do it again on Saturday."
Ruggeri leads the field on high bar after day one with a solid 15.850. The nine-time All-American sits in third on floor (15.750) and 10th in the all-around (86.950), securing 20 national team points to rank eighth.
Maestas finished the round tied for third on rings (15.050) and 10th on parallel bars (14.950) to rank 11th in the all-around (86.500) and 14th in national team points (10).
"Today was good to get the jitters out," Maestas said. "There were a few mistakes here and there, and there is definitely room for improvement. We just need to go out and attack it next time."
Sender finished in the top 10 on three events, ending the night in third on vault (16.300), fifth on parallel bars (15.200) and eighth on rings (14.750) to sit in 13th in the all-around (86.500) and rank ninth in national team points (18). Mori had a strong night on pommel horse to finish sixth (14.400). The two-time All-American sits in 24th in the all-around (82.850) and picked up five national team points.
Meanwhile, incoming freshmen Max Mayr and Joey Peters competed in the junior division. After day one, Mayr sits in fifth in the all-around (82.850) and ranks in the top five on three events, ending the session in second on rings (14.350), third on parallel bars (14.200) and fifth on pommel horse (13.350). Peters finished the day in ninth in the all-around and fourth on pommel horse (13.650).
Performances at the Visa Championships will determine the 15-man roster for the U.S. senior national team. The top-six all-around competitors and the top-four gymnasts in national team points will automatically earn spots. The national team points are awarded based on finishes in each event on both days of competition. The four national team point spots are reserved for athletes who do not finish in the all-around top six. In addition, the national team coordinator will select one gymnast, while the men's program committee will make the final four selections.
NBC will televise the men's final day of competition at the Visa Championships on Saturday from 12-2 p.m. CT and will re-air the footage from 7-9 p.m. CT on the Universal Sports Network.