Gymnasts star at nationals

By Mike Czapar

Even though the Illinois men’s gymnastics team was disappointed by its third place team finish at the 2005 NCAA Championships, the squad managed to end the weekend on a high note Saturday, as the Illini finished with four All-Americans and one individual National Champion.

Senior Peter Shostchuk, juniors Justin Spring and Adam Pummer, and freshman Tyler Yamauchi all finished in the top eight in their respective event finals to notch their awards.

With the exception of the rookie Yamauchi, being an All-American is a familiar place for the Illinois standouts – especially Shostchuk who became the first-ever Illini to earn the award four years in a row.

Pummer also took four All-American awards, finishing in the top eight in every event he competed in – marking the most awards an Illinois gymnast has won in a single season since Travis Romagnoli captured five in 1998.

Pummer said he was excited to take home so many accolades, and credited his teammates for helping him finish strong on the third day of the long competition.

“It feels good (to win four All-American awards),” Pummer said. “I’m glad I got through everything because competing on all four was pretty tiring. Having Justin on the floor at the same time was really motivating – just having another teammate competing, cheering you on gives you more energy to feed off of.”

After earning All-American in the all-around on the second day of competition, Spring came out strong on Saturday hoping to take individual titles in both the high bar and the parallel bars. While Spring’s 9.737 on the parallel bars earned him his second career national title, the same score on the high bar was slightly bested by Ohio State’s Ronald Ferris.

Spring said he was a little disappointed in his high bar performance, but was pleased with his performances overall.

“Parallel bars was the one event that I had a hard time finding consistency on, but I was finally able to put everything together,” Spring said. “Although winning both titles was my goal, I’m glad that I won parallel bars so I could show that I can excel on other events besides high bar.”

After the final competition of the 2005 season, head coach Yoshi Hayasaki said he shared the Illini’s disappointment with the results of the team competition, but was pleased with the results of the individual competition, and is optimistic about next season.

“Overall I am very, very proud of the guys, and the way they performed in the past three days was remarkable,” Hayasaki said. “I’m sure everyone is still disappointed in not winning the title, but we still did so much and we will be back next year. Everything is looking up.”