Freshman Mori helps No. 1 Illini top Buckeyes

After a week off from competition, the No. 1 Illinois men’s gymnastics team was confident upon facing Big Ten rival No. 5 Ohio State.

As expected, they beat the Buckeyes 349.700-341.350. However, the Illini did not perform as well as they hoped, junior Daniel Ribeiro said.

“We pushed through a lot of adversity. (Saturday) there was a lot of times where we missed and didn’t get routines, but we were able to fight back, and I think that shows what our team’s about,” Ribeiro said. “But at the same time, we can’t be missing routines. That’s something we’re going to work on the next few weeks and the rest of the season.”

Because this was only a dual meet, head coach Justin Spring decided to give some athletes a rest. Junior Paul Ruggeri was scheduled to compete in the all-around but did not because his “injuries were acting up,” Spring said.

“We did really well with not having everyone competing, and we showed really high potential on high bar,” Spring said. “We are just gearing up to build momentum for the rest of the season.”

The Illini topped the Buckeyes in five of the six events, including the rings, which Ohio State was ranked first in before the meet.

One change that Spring decided to make for the dual meet was to introduce freshman Yoshi Mori to the all-around. Mori led the team with first-place finishes in the all-around, scoring 87.400, the parallel bars, posting 14.450 and the high bar, with a score of 15.000.

“He was our high scorer, and he just did exceptional,” Spring said. “His score counted for five of his six events. Yoshi really improved himself. He does really clean gymnastics, and he can potentially be counted for six out of six events, and that’s a big deal.”

For only having practiced for two weeks, Mori’s accomplishments are “proof of greater things that are to come,” Spring said.

Mori was surprised that he did so well.

“I didn’t even expect to make top five, so it was exciting,” Mori said. “I was focusing on one skill at a time, and it turned out I did pretty good. I just took it step by step. I was not as prepared as I should have been, but I did pretty good.”

Sophomore Tyler Mizoguchi also had an impressive performance, Spring said. He finished in the top three in the floor, rings, all-around and parallel bars. He took the title in the floor with a score of 15.150.

“The guys knew that this wasn’t a championship. The guys were tired from overworking and preparing for a big meet next week,” Spring said. “We were getting over a few injuries. Under the circumstances, we did okay, but there is definitely room for improvement and potential for our team to do a lot better.”