Jordan Valdez is one of two returning All-American's who will represent the Illini men at the Orange & Blue Exhibition this Sunday.
Dec. 5, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Fighting Illini men's and women's gymnastics will team up this Sunday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. to host the Orange & Blue Exhibition at Huff Hall. Gymnasts from both squads will split into two teams of 13 to compete for the exhibition title. Illini athletes from various other sports will judge the match-play competition. The gymnasts will be available for autographs and will hand out posters at the conclusion of the meet. Doors open at 1 p.m., and admission is free.
The Illini men open the 2013 season ranked first in the country after winning the 2012 national title and their fourth straight Big Ten crown. The squad welcomes back four All-Americans from the NCAA championship team, including seniors Yoshi Mori (all-around, pommel horse) and Austin Phillips (high bar) and juniors Jordan Valdez (high bar) and Chad Mason (pommel horse).
The Orange & Blue Exhibition will feature six gymnasts who contributed countable scores at the 2012 NCAA Championships, including All-Americans Valdez and Mason along with juniors Alex Varga and Cole Smith and sophomores Josh Wilson and Mike Wilner.
Newcomers Max Mayr, Fred Hartville, Joey Peters and Logan Bradley, redshirt freshman Jacob Tilsley, senior Malcolm Brown, junior Andrew Margolis and sophomore Nick Sacramento will take the mat for the Illini men as well.
The women's team will start the season ranked 18th in the nation. Last year, the Illini claimed their fifth straight top-three finish at an NCAA Regional and sent a representative to the NCAA Championships for the fifth year in a row. Illinois also finished fifth at the Big Ten Championships and claimed 51 individual titles throughout the year.
This season, the Orange and Blue return 17 of 24 routines. All-American and All-Big Ten honoree Alina Weinstein returns after becoming Illinois' second-ever all-around regional champion last season and the second Illini in program history to win multiple regional titles in one year after winning on beam as well. Junior Amber See also returns after receiving second-team All-Big Ten honors and posting the second-highest vault score (9.925) in Illini history.
Seniors Macy Hyatt and Jaclyn Kantecki, juniors Sarah Fiedler and Elizabeth McNabb, sophomores Kelsi Eberly, Jordan Naleway, Gabriella Nguyen and Sunny Kato and newcomers Heather Foley and Giana O'Connor will also be in action at the Orange & Blue Exhibition.
The Illinois women's team will begin its regular season with a quad-meet against No. 19 Arizona, No. 6 Stanford and San Jose State on Jan. 12 in Tucson, Ariz., and will host its home opener against Michigan State on Jan. 26 at Huff Hall.
The Illini men will kick off their regular season on Jan. 12 at No. 15 UIC and will open their home slate against No. 10 Iowa on Feb. 16 at Huff Hall with their annual Gym Jam meet alongside the Orange and Blue women.