Gymnasts fall to Cal.

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By Mike Czapar

The No. 1 men’s gymnastics team stumbled two weeks ago against Penn State but still came out on top. Last Saturday, the Illini fell and dropped their first meet of the season at the four-team Aquafina Pacific Coast Classic, losing to No. 7 California.

Previously unbeaten Illinois chalked a team score of 218.850, beating Arizona State and Washington, but fell short of Cal’s 219.150.

Head coach Yoshi Hayasaki was disappointed with the team’s performance and hopes that the Illini will rebound with a good week at practice.

“Our performance this weekend was mediocre,” Hayasaki said. “We had a rough time on pommel horse, which is usually one of our strongest events, and that really hurt us. We certainly didn’t expect to lose and didn’t perform very well. But I think it will serve as a good wake-up call to a lot of the guys, and I think we’re going to bounce back.”

The Illini were led by junior Adam Pummer’s two event titles and freshman Tyler Yamauchi’s first-place finish on the rings. Pummer earned a 9.35 on parallel bars and a 9.35 on the vault to add another couple individual titles to his long list of accolades.

Pummer said the loss was tough for the Illini and added that California did perform exceptionally well.

“It was a tough meet for us on the road, especially when we’re resting guys and some guys are not at full strength,” Pummer said. “It was a close meet – Cal only won by three-tenths. I think the combination of them having their best meet of the year and us having our worst meet of the year really had an effect on the outcome.”

Although the Illini were unhappy with the loss, they are not as concerned with staying undefeated as they are with improving consistency. Pummer said a loss at this point in the season is not a big concern as long as it is used to improve and get ready for postseason competition.

“Right now our biggest problem and our biggest focus is going to be consistency,” Pummer said. “I think it (the team’s loss) was a good lesson to us that we really need to improve our consistency if we want to achieve our goals in the post-season. We’re going to focus at practice this week and work to prepare for the Big Ten meet.”

The Illini struggled on the road and appeared tired from a long string of competitions, as well as a lengthy flight to the West Coast.

“I think that it’s apparent that our last two road trips have had an effect on our performance,” Hayasaki said. “I think we looked tired as a team from traveling and things of that nature. We haven’t fully recovered from a few of the last competitions; we need to have more quality workouts this week.”