Solid start for Spring

HOUSTON – Former Illini and current Illinois assistant Justin Spring took the first step in his bid to compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics on Thursday with a strong showing in the parallel bars and high bar at the U.S. gymnastics championships.

Spring scored 15.350 on the parallel bars, good for third place. Spring's mark is 0.150 off defending national champion David Durante's leading score on the apparatus.

Buckley nabs national honor

ATHENS, Ga. – Illinois freshman gymnast Allison Buckley became Illinois' first NCAA All-American by tying for sixth place on the balance beam Thursday at the national championships.

Buckley, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, tallied a 9.825 on the beam to earn the honor.

Teams terrific

Yoshi Hayasaki delivered one of the UI's 23 NCAA team championships:

Tate: Hayasaki's goal to go out on top

CHAMPAIGN – Yoshi Hayasaki, whose name has been synonymous with Illini gymnastics for most of 3 1/2 decades, is heading for his last roundup. He'll go out with both barrels blazing next April and will be succeeded by assistant Jon Valdez.

"It's hard to step down, particularly when we have a tremendous group coming in, but you have to do it some time," Hayasaki said Thursday. "I've been thinking a lot about it. As it stands right now, next season will be my last."

Buckley, Cowart set for national stage

URBANA – What are Allison Buckley and Nicole Cowart in for this week at the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships?

Their coach knows, but he considers it folly to even try to describe the high-octane atmosphere and high-stakes pressure that awaits the Illinois duo at a sold-out Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.

Ruggeri basks in glow of national title

URBANA – The folks back home have Paul Ruggeri's cell phone working overtime these days.

Ever since a radio station in Syracuse, N.Y., picked up on the news that the Illinois freshman won an NCAA gymnastics title late Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif., Ruggeri has been fielding a steady stream of long-distance pats on the back.

Freshman Ruggeri claims high bar crown

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Paul Ruggeri has a lot to live up to the next three years.

On Saturday, the freshman won the high bar national championship and was an All-American in the vault and floor exercise.

Illinois reach NCAA team gymnastics finals

PALO ALTO, Calif. – For the sixth consecutive year, No. 5 Illinois advanced to the team finals at the NCAA men's gymnastics meet Thursday. The only other school with as long of a streak is No. 2 Oklahoma, which also moved on. Also advancing: No. 3 Penn State, No. 6 Michigan, No. 1 Stanford and No. 4 California.

Illinois posted a season-high score 359.300.

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Illini rally in ninth

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Illinois scored four runs in the top of the ninth to defeat Indiana 8-7 in a Big Ten baseball game Saturday.

Ben Reeser retired the Hoosiers in order in the bottom half of the inning to earn his fourth save. Center fielder Kyle Hudson recorded his second career four-hit game, while Daniel Webb homered and went 3 for 4 with two RBI.