CHAMPAIGN — Justin Spring, who is entering his fifth season on the Illinois men’s gymnastics team’s coaching staff, was named the program’s head coach Wednesday.
Spring was the associate head coach in 2009-10 after three seasons as an assistant to former coach Yoshi Hayasaki. Last season, Spring guided the Illini to their second straight Big Ten title and a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
“It’s truly an honor to take over a program I grew to love so much as a student-athlete,” Spring said. “My passion for the program has only increased, and I look forward to doing the best I can to make this program as successful as possible.”
Women’s team picked second. The UI women’s gymnastics squad was picked to finish second by conference coaches in the Big Ten preseason poll. Michigan was tabbed as the favorite. Each coach also selected two of his gymnasts to form a 14-member Gymnasts to Watch List, and Illinois’ Allison Buckley and Melissa Fernandez made the cut.
Volleyball stars honored. Illinois outside hitter Colleen Ward was named to the AVCA All-America second team. Illini outside hitter Michelle Bartsch and setter Hillary Haen were on the third team.
Ward, Bartsch and Haen helped Illinois reach the third round of the NCAA tournament. The Illini lost to host Texas 3-2, barely missing a chance to reach the Elite Eight.
Ward and Bartsch are juniors and will be back with the Illini in 2011. Haen is a senior.