UI gymnasts selected

UI gymnasts selected

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Illinois senior Paul Ruggeri and freshman C.J. Maestas earned spots on the 2011 U.S. Senior National team based on their performances at the U.S. national championships.

Maestas, who finished second on rings and eighth in all-around, automatically qualified Friday by the National TeamPoints System.

Ruggeri, who had a season-ending ankle injury last winter, placed in the top 10 on three events at the competition. His best showing was a third-place tie on high bar, but Ruggeri also took eighth on floor and 10th on vault.

"What C.J. did (Friday night) was huge," Illini coach Justin Spring said. "He's only a freshman and only going to get better. This is exactly why we recruited him. He is going to do great and is ready to start his push for the 2012 Olympic team. I think he is going to be one of the greatest Illini gymnasts of all time."

In other news, Maestas and Ruggeri were among six gymnasts chosen to represent the U.S. at the 2011 Pan American Games, scheduled Oct. 24-29 in Guadalajara, Mexico, and Spring was picked to serve as the coach at the Olympic-sanctioned event. UI senior Tyler Mizoguchi was selected as an alternate.

"It's really an honor," Spring said. "This is a huge deal for C.J. and Paul, and I'm excited they get a chance to compete and represent the U.S. in such a great event."