#2 Illini Take Second at Windy City InviteJanuary 15, 2012
CHICAGO – The Illini men’s gymnastics team opened the 2012 season with a runner-up finish at the WindyCity Invitational Saturday night in Chicago. Illinois, which is ranked second nationally, posted an overall team score of 341.900, finishing just behind No. 7 Ohio State (344.500). No. 3 Michigan finished third (338.700), followed by No. 8 Minnesota (338.100), No. 12 UIC(327.200) and No. 10 Iowa (316.800).
“We definitely didn’t go into this competition expecting to have a great meet,” Illinois head coach Justin Spring said. “As a coach, I am proud of the fight and never giving up. In general, we are throwing some of the most difficultgymnastics out there, and it’s going to take time to get it together. Winning Windy City would have been fantastic, but we have ultimate goals that we’re trying to accomplish.”
Newcomer C.J. Maestas led the way in his Illini debut, claiming the crown in the all-around (86.500) and tying for first on rings (15.400) with senior teammate Anthony Sacramento. Maestas also took third on vault (14.900) and posted the fifth-highest score on parallel bars (14.400) along with junior Austin Phillips, who also placed fifth on high bar (14.000).
Redshirt senior and seven-time All-American Paul Ruggeri had a solid night for the Orange and Blue as well, taking the title on high bar with a 15.400 in his first collegiate meet since sustaining a season-ending injury in 2011. The Manlius, N.Y., native added to his success with third-place finishes on parallel bars (14.800) and in the all-around (83.200).
Junior Yoshi Mori contributed to the Illini cause as well, finishing second on vault (15.000), while senior C.J. Padera and sophomore Jordan Valdez captured third-place finishes on pommel horse (14.400) and high bar (14.100), respectively.
As a team, the Orange and Blue finished first on rings (59.800) and high bar (57.000) and second on vault (57.900). The Illini will travel to Iowa City next weekend to take on the No. 10 Hawkeyes on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 5 p.m. CT.