Senior Paul Ruggeri
Dec. 3, 2010
The Fighting Illini men's and women's gymnastics teams will kick off the season this Sunday, Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. for the annual Mixed Pairs Exhibition meet at Huff Hall. Members of both squads will form teams of one female and one or two males to compete for the Mixed Pairs title. Various Illini athletes will serve as judges and will be using the women's 10-point scoring system to calculate scoring to determine the winning group. Members of both squads will be available for autographs and will be handing out team posters at the conclusion of the event. Doors open at 1 p.m. and admission is free.
Associate head coach Justin Spring returns for his second year at the helm for the men's team, which captured its second straight Big Ten title this past April and finished fourth at the NCAA Championships. The team will open the season ranked fourth nationally in the 2010 GymInfo Preseason Coaches poll.
Returning for the men are three Big Ten Champions from last season in seniors Daniel Ribeiro (pommel horse) and Paul Ruggeri (vault and high bar) and junior C.J. Padera (parallel bars), as well as 2010 All-Americans, senior Chad Wiest (floor exercise) and juniors Tyler Mizoguchi (all-around) and Anthony Sacramento (rings). It was the 11th straight year the Illini had at least one All-American and the eighth consecutive time with at least five, as graduated seniors Luke Stannard (pommel horse) and Tyler Williamson (rings) also garnered All-America accolades.
The women's gymnastics team enters the 2011 season ranked 17th in the nation, marking the fourth straight season the Illini will begin the season in the Top 25. Illinois is coming off a 2010 campaign where they finished with a No. 16 national ranking after a third-place showing at the NCAA Central Regional. This season, the Illini return 16 of 24 routines and nine letterwinners, including two All-Americans in seniors Allison Buckley and Melissa Fernandez, with head coach Kim Landrus at the helm. Buckley, a two-time All-American, picked up first-team honors on vault in 2010 and second-team honors on beam in 2008, while Fernandez was a first-team All-American honoree on beam at the 2009 NCAA Championships.
Also returning for the women are junior Kelsey Joannides, the 2009 Big Ten vault champion, and senior Samantha Perino, who was named as the team's Most Improved Gymnast a year ago. Sophomores Jaclyn Kantecki and Alina Weinstein are also back after cracking the lineup and contributing immediately last season. All three freshmen, Sarah Fiedler, Elizabeth McNabb and Amber See, are expected to make a splash right away, as they join a squad eyeing a trip back to nationals.
The women's regular season competition begins on Jan. 8 in Lexington, Ky., against No. 24 Kentucky and Northern Illinois, while the men start the year off on Jan. 15 at the Windy City Invitational in Chicago. The home opener for both squads takes place on Jan. 29, when the teams compete against Iowa in a double dual at Huff Hall.
Mixed Pairs Teams
Kyle Moe / Melissa Fernandez
Chad Mason / Andrew Margolis / Sarah Fiedler
Cameron Rogers / Elise Gill
Alex Varga / Anthony Sacramento / Kelsey Joannides
Tyler Mizoguchi / Jaclyn Kantecki
Paul Ruggeri / Lashlee Morris
Devin Regan / Allison Buckley
Maxwell Portocarrero / Malcolm Brown / Macy Hyatt
Yoshi Mori / Alina Weinstein
Cole Smith / C.J. Padera / Hannah Welker
Chad Wiest / Amber See
Daniel Ribeiro / Elizabeth McNabb
Austin Phillips / Samantha Perino