Illini gymnasts rate top spot

Illini gymnasts rate top spot

CHAMPAIGN — Justin Spring’s reigning national champion gymnastics team was ranked No. 1 in the preseason GymInfo Coaches poll, which was released Sunday.

Illinois received six of 15 first-place votes.

“I think coming off winning the NCAA title last year, we’re fresh in a lot of people’s minds,” coach Justin Spring said. “It’s an honor, but preseason rankings are just that, the preseason. Everyone always hits the ground running once the season starts.”

Illinois returns defending NCAA still rings champion C.J. Maestas, and four other 2012 All-Americans: Yoshi Mori, Austin Phillips, Chad Mason and Jordan Valdez.

“We’re a well-rounded team,” Spring said. “Looking at how we won the national championship last year, it was a combination of everyone doing their job and stepping up to the plate. We didn’t rely on one or two all-arounders; we relied on our team as a whole. We’re going to continue to promote that philosophy. Every man on this team is going to work to help us win, hopefully, another national championship.”

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