UI gymnast beaming after title

For the first time since 1991, Illinois has a Big Ten champion in women's gymnastics.

Sophomore Gina Wiechmann won the balance beam Saturday at the Big Ten meet in East Lansing, Mich. The Clearwater, Fla., native scored a 9.875.

"I think it's one of my top highlights. It's the best thing I've ever accomplished before," Wiechmann said. "It's a tremendous honor."

The Illini placed fifth in the team standings (193.8 points), one spot up from last year's finish. Michigan (196.3) won the team title.

The last Illini to win a Big Ten title was Lynn Devers in the uneven bars in 1991.

"She's been one of our most consistent kids," UI coach Lynn Brueckman said. "She competed against some of the best kids in the country tonight. She earned this title."

The Illini next compete at an NCAA regional April 8 in Lincoln, Neb.

In men's gymnastics:

Oka honored.

Leo Oka was named to the All-Big Ten team for Illinois at the league meet in Iowa City, Iowa.

Oka was fourth in the parallel bars with a 9.6875.

The Illini were strongest in the vault, led by sophomore Eric Nishimoto's second-place finish (9.687). Kyle Zak was fifth in the event and Linh Hoang sixth.

In men's track and field:

Title goes to Illini.

Sherman Armstrong provisionally qualified for the NCAAs by winning the 400 meters in 51.18 seconds to lead the UI to the Southern Illinois Invitational title. Armstrong also won the 110 high hurdles in 14.07 and ran legs on two winning relays.

Babatunde Ridley won two events: the 100 in 10.70 and the 200 in 21.08.

Ridley, Armstrong, Larry Davis and Randy Gillon won the 400 relay in 41.12. Kendall McCoy, Jake Lindley, Armstrong and Tyrone Jones won the 1,600 relay in 3:11.67.

Jones also won the 400 in 48.02. Other Illini winners: Jason Van Swol in the 800 (1:49.09) and Scott McClennan in the 5,000 (14:31.00).

In women's track and field:

UI second.

Tisha Ponder (high jump), Collinus Newsome (shot put) and Stacy Ann Grant (high jump) placed second as Illinois finished second behind Minnesota at the Bayou Classic in Houston.

The UI's 400 relay team finished first. Aleisha Latimer was third in the 100.

In men's tennis:

Illini roll.

For the first time since 1978, second-ranked Illinois won in South Bend, Ind., as Oliver Freelove and Jeff Laski won in singles and doubles play in a 5-2 win against No. 26 Notre Dame.

Freelove beat Ryan Sachire 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 at No. 1 singles and teamed with Cary Franklin to win at No. 1 doubles. Laski beat Matt Daly 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 at No. 3 singles and teamed with Jamal Parker to win at No. 2 doubles.

Mike Kosta and Jakub Teply also won singles matches.

In men's golf:

UI third.

Mark Henderson shot even par for two rounds Saturday to lead Illinois to third place at the 19-team Dr Pepper Invitational. Henderson is tied for fifth place heading into today's final 18 holes.

Tim Riley was tied for 12th and D.A. Points tied for 24th for the Illini, who at 588 are 14 strokes behind Minnesota.

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