Illinois men's gymnastics sweeps UIC and Temple

By James Boyd

Tweet: After three weeks on the road, the @IlliniMGym team returned to Huff Hall and dominated. The #Illini are now 9-1 on the season.

James Boyd

Staff Writer

The Illinois men’s gymnastics team took down Temple and UIC in convincing fashion Saturday.

The No. 5 Illini swept through the competition taking home all six individual crowns, as well as all six team crowns on its way to a season high score of 436.550. Temple finished second and UIC third with scores of 394.900 and 391.050, respectively.

It was the Illini’s third matchup with the Flames this season, and their first with the Owls since 2012. The win moved the team to 9-1 on the season.

Head Coach Justin Spring decided to rest all-arounders sophomore Bobby Baker and freshman Alex Diab, providing other members of the team with opportunities to showcase their talents – the first of whom would be junior Matt Foster.

“It was amazing to see some of our other guys step up,” Spring said. “That’s exactly what you want to see.”

Foster posted a season best 13.900 in the Illini’s first event of the day and Senior Logan Bradley followed suit with a career-high 14.650. Dominating the competition with a 15.400, sophomore Chandler Eggleston walked away with the event title – his third straight floor exercise crown in as many weeks.

In the second rotation of the day, Illinois sophomore Brandon Ngai set an NCAA high and career best 15.600 on his pommel horse routine. 

Spring has repeatedly complemented Ngai for his attention to detail and tedious work ethic, and the effects of that were on full display Saturday.

“I think at this point, I can hit even way higher than the score I did today,” Ngai said. “One of the big goals here is to break Coach Daniel Ribeiro’s record of 16.000 . . . that would be spectacular.”

The Illini continued their dominant outing on still rings. Sophomore Dennis Minton scored a personal best of 15.350, earning him the still ring title, and Freshman Alex Diab finished second, tying his career high with a 15.300.

In his first home meet since tearing his achilles at the NCAA championships, senior Fred Hartville showed no signs of injury during his vault routine. His score of 14.850 on vault was runner-up only to his teammate Eggleston, who scored 15.150 on his way to his third consecutive vault title this season.

“It took me about nine months, ten months to come back,” Hartville said. “It’s my senior year . . . so just to be able to get back out here in front of (the home crowd) and have their support (was amazing).”

In his first action of the day, Baker performed in parallel bars and high bar. The sophomore won parallel bars with a score of 14.750, and after a season low 13.000 on high bar last week, he was back on track this time around scoring a 14.500.

Sophomore Tyson Bull earned his first career title on high bar with a score of 14.800 in the sixth and final event of the day, and freshman Johnny Jacobson was named the all-around champion after earning a personal and team high score of 86.500.

“We’re not there yet . . . but this is a huge step in the right direction,” Spring said. “I’ve kind of been waiting for us to steamroll from event one, clear through a meet, and we almost did that today.”

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