MINNEAPOLIS – Before it could take aim at a national title, No. 3 Illinois simply had to survive the first cut at the NCAA men's gymnastics meet.
Yoshi Hayasaki's Illini did just that, joining five other teams to advance from Thursday's first two sessions at Minnesota's Sports Pavilion.
URBANA – It was hardly a shocker when an Illinois gymnast won the Big Ten pommel horse title in early April.
In Daniel Ribeiro, the Illini not only had the defending conference champion but the nation's top-ranked practitioner of the event.
CHAMPAIGN – Trent Meacham will seek a roster spot, perhaps in Europe, to further his basketball exploits. Derek Walker, Xavier Fulton and various other Illini will try to extend their football careers, perhaps in Canada if necessary. UI golfers and tennis standouts can play their specialties to old age.
Twenty years ago, Illinois' David Zeddies earned the Nissen Award, emblematic of the top male collegiate gymnast. A native of Union Springs, N.Y., he became the Illini's first Nissen Award winner since it was initially presented in 1966. Zeddies combined his marvelous athletic ability with sportsmanship and leadership, and he also was an outstanding scholar. He excelled on the rings and the parallel bars, earning 1988 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year honors and helping lead coach Yoshi Hayasaki's Illini squad to the 1989 NCAA title. Zeddies earned his doctorate at Northwestern University, served at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland. He now is a member of Maryland's Department of Biology in College Park.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Matt Dittman doubled and drove in two runs, but Illinois lost 4-2 to Michigan on Friday night in Big Ten baseball.
Losing pitcher Phil Haig allowed seven hits in seven innings. Wolverines pitcher Chris Fetter fanned 13.
SEATTLE - The No. 14 Illini women's gymnastics team finished second Saturday night in the claimed the program’s
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The Illinois men's gymnastics team won its first Big Ten title since 2004 on Friday night, but Yoshi Hayasaki's Illini had to share the trophy.
URBANA – He is the defending NCAA champion in the high bar. The reigning U.S. champion in that event, too. And a three-time NCAA All-American.
When it comes to gymnastics resumes, Paul Ruggeri's is second to one among University of Illinois personnel active in the sport. No shame there, considering Illini assistant coach Justin Spring has a bronze medal to show for his trip to the 2008 Olympics.
INDIANAPOLIS – Bob Starkell's 14th-ranked women's gymnasts earned the third seed in the West Regional, which was announced Monday.
It is the Illini's sixth consecutive regional invitation and is the first time in school history they have earned one of the coveted top-18 seeds.
The Illini will compete April 4 at ank of America Arena in Seattle. A top-two finish will earn Illinois its first trip to the NCAA Championships in school history. The national meet will be April 16-18 in Lincoln, Neb.