Men’s gymnastics opens its season with some friendly competition


Daily Illini File Photo

Illinois’ Dennis Minton performs his routine on the rings at the meet against Michigan on March 12, 2016.

By Tatiania Perry , Staff writer

A day of light, friendly competition is the only way to characterize the Illinois men’s gymnastics Orange and Blue Exhibition meet.

The men split into two teams —  Orange and Blue — then combined with the women who did the same to form hybrid teams.

The competition consisted of four rotations of six events — three men’s and three women’s.

At the end of the four rotations, the Orange and Blue were tied so the competition went into a makeshift version of overtime. For the tie breaker cross contest on the still rings, each team selected a men’s representative — sophomore Alex Diab for the Orange and junior Dennis Minton for the Blue.

Diab went first, holding for 25.2 seconds which drew gasps from the crowd, as most competitions only require a two-second hold.

Needless to say, Minton had his work cut out for him. He held on for 14.6 seconds before dropping.

Although the Blue team ended up losing, everyone was very impressed with Diab’s hold and ran to embrace him following the lengthy time.

The Orange team gained the bulk of its points from the men’s side and mostly from the pommel horse. Senior Tom Gibbs grabbed the first Orange point of the day with his opening performance.

The coaching staff agreed that the top overall performance was from junior Tyson Bull of the Blue team. He had a couple falls, but coaches said he had improved from where he was expected to be.

“There were some guys stepping up, hitting some amazing routines, but with the majority of the performances today, we definitely need those five weeks,” head coach Justin Spring said. “There is a lot of stuff to improve on, but we’ve got the time to do so.”

Many of the gymnasts competing were freshmen or upperclassmen looking to polish up some new skills.

The day was filled with screaming group hugs, handmade posters, chants and endless support from all of the gymnasts. Members of the Blue team went as far as painting their chest as a show of support.

Going along with tradition, student athletes were guest judges of this competition — football, men’s track, women’s tennis and soccer were represented.

Their task was simple, hold up an orange or blue flag for whomever they felt performed the best.

Freshman football judge Jamal Milan was one of the most entertaining, according to Spring.

“He was judging rings, but he was front and center on high bar,” Spring said. “High bar is that event that had that wow factor and just watching his face, it was like his brain didn’t believe his eyes.”

On three separate occasions, the athletes were too “wowed” to decide, so it was left up to the audience to make the decision based on the volume of their cheers.

“I love when they come out and judge us for this meet,” junior Chandler Eggleston said. “I just love the support we have here at U of I.”

[email protected]