Ruggeri, Maestas Fight for Olympic Berths at U.S. Trials
June 30, 2012
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Recent Illinois graduate Paul Ruggeri finished sixth in the all-around and in the top three on two events at the U.S. Olympic Trials Saturday afternoon at the HP Pavilion, making his case for a spot on the five-man Olympic team, which will be announced Sunday evening. Illini sophomore-to-be C.J. Maestas finished seventh in the all-around and fourth on rings to help keep his Olympic hopes alive.
"I think C.J. and I handled ourselves really well," Ruggeri said. "This is one of the most high-pressured competitions in the world. We went out there as brothers and competed together. We really did our job, and both of us went 12-for-12 over the two days. I couldn't be prouder."
Ruggeri posted an 88.950 in the all-around, his highest score throughout the Visa Championships and Olympic Trials, to secure sixth place with a four-day combined total of 352.800. The nine-time All-American finished third on high bar with a four-day high of 15.900 to finish with a 62.900 overall on that event. Ruggeri also placed third on floor (61.650) and seventh on parallel bars (59.300).
"My vaults hurt my performance over the entire process," Ruggeri said. "It's unfortunate because during the whole NCAA season, I was really consistent on vault. I couldn't pull it off here, but I was consistent on high bar, parallel bars and floor, so it's going to be interesting."
Maestas, the reigning NCAA still rings champion, finished fourth on that apparatus with a combined 60.650. The three-time All-American placed sixth on pommel horse (56.150) to finish seventh in the all-around with a 351.750, which included a final-day 89.450, his best score over the four days of competition.
Despite Illini volunteer assistant coach David Sender's shaky two-day performance that put him in 14th overall, the 12-time senior national team member was outstanding on vault, finishing second with a four-day 64.100.
Danell Leyva and John Orozco were named to the Olympic team immediately following the Trials, securing automatic berths to the 2012 Olympic Games in London with first- and second-place finishes in the all-around.
Team USA will consist of five gymnasts and up to three alternates. The remaining spots will be announced Sunday night following the women's final, airing on NBC from 8-10 p.m. CT. All four days of competition (two from Visa Championships and two from Olympic Trials) will be used to determine Team USA, subject to the approval of the U.S. Olympic Committee's board of directors.