After scary neck injury, Drollinger again among the nation's best

URBANA – His nickname is Soldier, but it doesn't stem from any aspirations of a military career or some wardrobe heavy on army fatigues.

Nope, Jon Drollinger picked up the name tag four years ago from a group of veteran Illinois gymnasts impressed with their new teammate's story of perseverance and toughness.

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Crall, gymnasts make their mark

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Julie Crall won the balance beam on the last routine of the night to lead Illinois to a second-place finish at the Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships.

The Illini tallied a season-high score of 195.750 to earn their highest finish since winning the event in 1990.

Ex-Illini Anderson bounces champion

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. – Novak Djokovic often bounces the ball more than a dozen times before serving, and the tedious ritual might have cost him a match Friday.

The defending champion at the Sony Ericsson Open went into a funk after being warned for taking too much time between points, then blew a third-set lead to lose his opening match.

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Buckley takes leap forward

CHAMPAIGN – Freshman Allison Buckley captured three individual titles, leading No. 24 Illinois to first place Saturday at the four-team State of Illinois Classic.

Buckley won the all-around, floor exercise and balance beam, giving her 19 titles for the season. Her total is the third best in school history, trailing Nancy Thies' marks of 34 (1976) and 24 ('77).

Armstrong sparkles in defeat

FULLERTON, Calif. – Lana Armstrong drove in Illinois' only run in a 9-1 loss to 14th-ranked Fresno State on Friday at the Judi Garman Classic.

In another tournament game in Walnut, Calif., Armstrong went 1 for 3 with two RBI in the Illini's 5-2 loss against Utah.

Haagensen, Ruggeri lead Illini charge

CHAMPAIGN – Wes Haagensen (89.600) and Paul Ruggeri (84.150) took the top two spots in the all-around competition Saturday as the sixth-ranked Illinois men's gymnastics team defeated No. 5 Michigan 357.150-353.200 at Huff Hall.

In addition to his all-around title, Haagensen won the parallel bars, just ahead of Illinois' Tyler Yamauchi and Brian Liscovitz. Haagensen also netted a second place in the horizontal bar event.

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Hoffman, Illini claim national wheelchair basketball title

CHAMPAIGN – Carlee Hoffman had 19 points and 12 rebounds as the UI women's wheelchair basketball team defeated Alabama 44-43 on Saturday in the title game of the national tournament.