Ruggeri earns top two honors for gymnastics

By Daniel Johnson

It was an eventful Wednesday for Paul Ruggeri, who collected both the Big Ten and College Gymnastics Association Gymnast of the Week awards – the first time an Illini gymnast has received either award this year.

The highly touted freshman from Manlius, N.Y., is fresh off of a 171.100 point performance at Winter Cup Challenge, which tied him for eighth overall and was the second-best finish by a collegian.

“It’s pretty exciting to know that my work is paying off and improvement is showing,” Ruggeri said.

As well as Ruggeri did last weekend, he was too focused on his own performance to realize the final result.

“To be honest, I didn’t really pay attention to what was going on,” he said. “I knew that if I did well things were going to fall into place.”

While Ruggeri was not too overwhelmed with the awards, head coach Yoshi Hayasaki was glad to see him turn heads on a larger stage.

“The competition last weekend at Winter Cup was eye-opening for a lot of people,” Hayasaki said about his freshman’s performance. “He showed his maturity at Winter Cup, and that he’s not just a good gymnast, but a contender for the national team. He is certainly a rising young star in the national scene.”