CHAMPAIGN – When your name is Peter Shostchuk, you ask people to pronounce it quickly and not worry about it.
But his name would have been Mud – at least in his own mind – if he didn''t come through Friday night at the Assembly Hall.
CHAMPAIGN – His life''s work is a sport defined by its acrobatic twists and turns. Appropriate, perhaps, given the sudden and unexpected change of direction Yoshi Hayasaki''s own life took in 1965.
If not for the fortunate intersection that year of an American coach on sabbatical in Tokyo and the emergence of a talented, young Japanese gymnast, Hayasaki likely still would be living in his Far East homeland.
CHAMPAIGN – When Miles Avery walked into the Assembly Hall on Wednesday afternoon, his jaw dropped to the floor.
"I was blown away," the Ohio State men''s gymnastics coach said. "The place looked awesome."
CHAMPAIGN – Illinois'' men''s gymnastics team is ranked No. 1 heading into this weekend''s NCAA Championships at the Assembly Hall, but that doesn''t mean the Illini feel the pressure of being expected to come out No. 1.
They have Oklahoma to thank for that.
The top three individuals in each event, as ranked by their National Qualifying Average, a formula that incorporates regular season and conference meet scores:
Illinois senior Bob Rogers has been named a finalist for the Nissen-Emery Award, presented to the top collegiate senior gymnast each year.
The Illinois men''s basketball team isn''t the only squad heading to a regional soon. The UI women''s gymnastics team, led by coach Bob Starkell, earned a bid to the South Central Regional in Tucson, Ariz.
The invitation to the April 3 event, which was announced Monday, is the first under Starkell, who is in his fifth season at the school.
CHAMPAIGN – The Illinois men''s gymnastics team has a reputation – and the No. 1 ranking to back it up – as the nation''s best in pommel horse competition.
On Saturday, at the event finals of the Big Ten championships at Huff Hall, Illinois proved nobody in the conference can compare.
CHAMPAIGN – Twenty-four hours later, Justin Spring had another narrow defeat.
One day after losing the all-around title to Ohio State''s Randy Monahan by 0.075, Spring lost out on Big Ten Gymnast of the Year honors to the Buckeye junior.
CHAMPAIGN – In March Madness terms, it was the equivalent of losing on a jump shot at the buzzer.
Illinois'' Justin Spring carried the lead into the final event of the all-around standings at Friday''s Big Ten Championships, but defending champion Randy Monahan of Ohio State emerged with the title – by 0.075.