URBANA – Illini national championships occur too infrequently to be taken lightly.
Like, let's see, lonely NCAA titles in tennis (2003) and men's gymnastics (1989) since 1958, more than a half-century.
At 9-1, Illinois is off to its best 10-game start since 2003, when it also opened 9-1. The Illini nearly cracked this week's USA Today/NFCA Top 25, earning the 26th-most votes. Illinois enters Friday's 12:30 p.m. matchup against the Seminoles 1-1 against ranked opponents this season.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Paul Ruggeri won the all-around, parallel bars and high bar to lead top-ranked Illinois past No. 5 Penn State in men's gymnastics Saturday.
The Illini's 354.600-345.950 victory represented a season-high point total.
CHAMPAIGN – The pressure was on for Sarah Schmidt on Sunday. Heading into the final floor routine, the Illini senior needed to score better than 9.825 to give Illinois a victory against Michigan State.
"Sarah knew she needed a pretty good score, and she came through an impressive performance," Illini coach Bob Starkell said after Schmidt posted a 9.925 to give Illinois the inaugural Victory Plank trophy with a 195.600-195.500 win. "She didn't crunch the numbers to know how good of a score she needed, but she knew she could do it, and this was a great showing from her."
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Illinois senior Angela Bizzarri tied a 22-year-old school record while winning the mile run Saturday at the Tyson Invitational women's indoor track and field meet.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Freshman Yoshi Mori won the all-around, parallel bars and high bar to lead top-ranked Illinois past No. 5 Ohio State in men's gymnastics Saturday.
CHAMPAIGN – Melissa Bates won the 200- and 400-meter dashes and also anchored Illinois' winning 1,600 relay as the Illini women's track and field team won Saturday's nine-team Carle/Health Alliance Classic at the UI Armory.
Bates' time in the 400 (54.74 seconds) provisionally qualifies her for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
AMES, Iowa – Illinois had a hard time getting started in its final tuneup for the Big Ten wrestling season.
No. 2 Iowa State dominated the Illini 33-9 before 2,812 fans at Hilton Coliseum.