2014 Season in Review
June 12, 2014
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Fighting Illini men's gymnastics team finished the 2013-14 season with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships after advancing to its 12th straight NCAA team final. Freshman Chandler Eggleston took home the Big Ten floor title, and Jordan Valdez earned the NCAA title on high bar.
The Illini came home from the NCAA Championships with ten All-Americans, the most of any team in the country, and C.J. Maestas set an all-time school and NCAA record on still rings.
The Illini started the season ranked No. 5 in the nation and opened with a pair of meets hosted by UIC. In the season-opening dual, the top-ranked Illini cruised to an easy win over UIC, winning all six event titlesIn the season's second meet, Illinois tied for second at the Windy City Invitational. Freshman Tom Gibbs took home the all-around title at the dual meet, and fellow newcomer Eggleston won on floor at both meets. Freshman Chandler Eggleston earned Big Ten Freshman of the Week for both weeks.
Illinois hosted Ohio State and experimented with a head-to-head format, in which the teams competed on the same apparatus, switching off gymnasts. C.J. Maestas took his second consecutive rings title, with Valdez and Eggleston earning their third consecutive titles on high bar and floor, respectively. Eggleston brought home his third consecutive Big Ten Freshman of the Week, and Maestas was named CGA Gymnast of the Week.
The No. 4 Illini traveled to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota and Nebraska, beating out the Huskers, but falling to the Gophers with a score of 432.700. Illinois gymnasts took home four of the titles, with Maestas competing in the all-around for the first time since the 2012 Olympic Trials. Chandler Eggleston earned his fourth straight Big Ten Freshman of the Week title.
Illinois then went to Iowa City, besting the No. 9 Hawkeyes 433.350-420.300. C.J. Maestas set a school and NCAA record on still rings to bring home the title, beating out the competition by almost a full point (16.450). Eggleston and Maestas took home Big Ten Freshman and Gymnast of the Week, respectively, and Maestas also earned CGA Gymnast of the Week honors. This week marked Egglestons fifth consecutive Big Ten honors, making him the first gymnast in program history to do so.
The No. 5 Fighting Illini traveled to Penn State, falling to the Nittany Lions 436.050-431.150. Maestas took home his third all-around title of the season, scoring 87.050.
Five Illini went to the U.S. Winter Cup Challenge with Mike Wilner, C.J. Maestas, and Chandler Eggleston advancing to the final day of competition. Maestas finished in the top ten in the all-around, and all three gymnasts placed in the top 15 of their respective events.
The Fighting Illini returned home for the annual Gym Jam meet on March 8. More than 2,000 fans attended Huff Hall for the event to see Illinois take down UIC 427.850-401.900. The meet doubled as Senior Day for the Illini, and the team honored graduating gymnasts Andrew Margolis, Chad Mason, Cameron Rogers, Cole Smith, and Alex Varga. It was a record setting afternoon for the Illini, with Taylor Smith, Cole Smith, Joey Peters, Chandler Eggleston, Cameron Rogers, and Logan Bradley achieving personal records.
No. 6 Illinois competed in the last regular season meet in Lincoln, Nebraska, where they took on Nebraska, Minnesota, Air Force, and Iowa. The Illini came in second with a score of 434.850, beating every team but Iowa. Matt Foster scored a career high for the pommel horse title (14.950), and Jordan Valdez took his first title on parallel bars with a 15.300.
The Illini placed fourth at the Big Ten Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska. Maestas was the only Illini to nab a title, taking still rings with a score of 15.900. The Orange and Blue sent five gymnasts to event finals.
Chandler Eggleston kept Illini tradition alive, taking home the floor exercise title to make 12 consecutive years of individual event titles. Eggleston and Maestas were named First Team All-Big Ten, while teammates Chad Mason and Jordan Valdez earned Second Team honors.
At the NCAA Session I Qualifier, Illinois advanced to its 12th straight NCAA team final, finishing fourth in the nation. Jordan Valdez won the NCAA individual title on vault, putting him in the No. 6 spot for high bar season titles in all of Illini gymnastics history. He gave Illinois an NCAA individual event champion for the fourth straight year and was Illinois' eighth NCAA vault champion all-time.
Hartville was one of six Illini to earn All-America status. Chandler Eggleston earned his first All-American accolades this season (floor, vault), along with Logan Bradley (pommel horse). Second-time honorees included Chad Mason (pommel horse), Jordan Valdez (parallel bars, high bar), C.J. Maestas (still rings), and Mike Wilner (still rings). Illinois had more honorees than any team in the country, with 10 All-American honors total.