Illini Insider

Jeff Huth's review and preview of all things Illinois

Justin Spring gets promotion

CHAMPAIGN — Olympian Justin Spring today was promoted to associate head coach for Illinois men's gymnastics.

Spring, who will retire from competitive gymnastics, will  oversee the men's program previously run by Yoshi Hayasaki, who retired.

Returning Olympian Thies has seen a lot during her gymnastics career

SALEM, Ore. – It came to be known as Ping Pong Diplomacy, an acknowledgment of the role the sport played in the normalization of relations between two Cold War adversaries in the early 1970s.

It wasn't the only sport, however, that helped thaw an icy chill that then existed between the People's Republic of China and the United States. Urbana native Nancy Thies Marshall can attest to that because she lived it, participating in a historic meeting of the countries' gymnastics teams in May 1973 at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Tate: Of Cubs, Cards and capable UI coaches

– Decatur's Lewis Jackson should have been warned that the outskirts of Monticello is no place to speed. Town scuttlebutt has it that a favorite watering hole, once owned by Dick Butkus' linebacker coach Lou Baker at Illinois, went out of business when town gendarmes took notice that patrons were leaving there in cars when they had no business driving.

Ask Tony

Each week, HQ know-it-all Tony Bleill answers our questions

Three titles for gymnasts

MINNEAPOLIS – Paul Ruggeri keeps his first NCAA trophy on a crowded dresser in his apartment room on campus.

"It's overflowing," the Illinois sophomore gymnast said. "There's not much room for anything else."

Men's gymnasts fifth; Ruggeri third

Sophomore third in all-around

MINNEAPOLIS – The Illini didn't send coach Yoshi Hayasaki out with a national championship, but the 33-year Illinois men's gymnastics coach couldn't be more proud of his squad after a fifth-place finish Friday at the NCAA Championships.

UI men make gymnastics final

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.

Stannard a deserving complement

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.

Tate: Illini arrow pointing up

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.