Orange and Blue Picked Third in Preseason Big Ten Poll
Dec. 12, 2013
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Illinois men's gymnastics team was picked third in the Big Ten preseason poll, the conference announced Thursday. In addition, Fred Hartville and C.J. Maestas were named to the conference's 14-man Gymnasts to Watch list.
The Illini finished fifth in the conference in 2013, breaking a string of four-straight conference championships. Michigan, who won both the conference and national championships last season, is the unanimous preseason No. 1 in the conference, and Ohio State was picked second. The Illini enter the season tied for fifth in the national preseason poll.
"The Big Ten is very strong this year, and we look forward to a very competitive season," head coach Justin Spring said. "With the five up, five count postseason format, anything can happen."
C.J. Maestas, a redshirt sophomore, missed the entire 2013 season with a tricep injury. In 2012, Maestas was the NCAA still rings champion and the runner-up in the All-Around competition. He was also an All-American on the pommel horse and was named Big Ten Gymnast of the Year, Big Ten Freshman of the Year and a first-team All-Big Ten selection.
Fred Hartville, a true sophomore, won the NCAA vault title in 2013, becoming Illinois' first freshman to win an NCAA vault title. He earned All-Big Ten and All-America honors and set the school record score on vault. He was the 2013 team co-MVP and Most Outstanding Gymnast honoree and Illinois' all-sport male Newcomer of the Year. He was a two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week and is the reining conference vault champion.
"Both C.J. and Fred have proven to be great competitors, and we will count on both of them heavily all year long," Spring said.
The Illini kick off the regular season at UIC on Jan. 12 in Chicago.
BIG TEN MEN'S GYMNASTICS PRESEASON COACHES' POLL
BIG TEN MEN'S GYMNASTS TO WATCH LIST