Illinois trio pommels the competition in league event finals

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.

Illini surge to first league title since ''89 season

CHAMPAIGN – If re-establishing Illinois'' men''s gymnastics program as one of the nation''s best is a two-step process, the first part was completed with a flourish Friday at Huff Hall.

Illinois stormed from behind in the final four events and claimed its conference-best 23rd Big Ten championship. But it is the Illini''s first title since 1989, snapping the league''s longest drought.

Spring bounced for title – barely

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.

Healthy Spring leads UI into Big Ten meet

CHAMPAIGN – By definition, roommates tend to know things others don''t, which partly explains why Adam Pummer isn''t going to give up Justin Spring''s secrets without a fight.

Pummer has borne witness to his Illinois gymnastics teammate taking risks on many occasions. And if people hang around the Illini''s training facilities long enough, they''ll see for themselves.

Illini remain No. 1

The Illinois men''s gymnastics team retained its No. 1 ranking in this week''s GymInfo poll despite a loss Saturday to No. 2 Oklahoma.

Based on a formula involving a three-score average, Yoshi Hayasaki''s Illini lead the nation at 220.708. The Sooners have a 220.342 average.

Spring honored again

Illinois'' Justin Spring was named NCAA Men''s Gymnast of the Week by Inside Gymnastics Magazine for the second time in three weeks.

UI men''s gym team ranked No. 1

The Illinois men''s tennis team isn''t the only top-ranked squad on campus. Yoshi Hayasaki''s men''s gymnastics team joined Craig Tiley''s group on Monday as No. 1 in the nation.

The GymInfo top ranking is the first for the Illini men since 1989, when they won Big Ten and NCAA titles. Illinois will host both events this year.

UI men remain third

With most teams idle last week because of the USA Gymnastics Winter Cup, there was little change in the NCAA men''s collegiate rankings.

Spring in his step

After four top-three finishes leading the No. 3 Illini to a win against eighth-ranked Minnesota, men''s gymnast Justin Spring was named the Big Ten Men''s Gymnast of the Week.

On even keel

Despite setting a school record for team score last weekend, the Illinois men''s gymnastics team remained third in this week''s national rankings.

With rankings based on total season average, the Illini are barely out of the lead at 215.367. Ohio State ranks first at 215.767, while Penn State is No. 2 at 215.583. Illinois'' average includes a 218.900 on Sunday against Minnesota, the program''s highest score since the NCAA adopted international scoring rules in 2001.