Long layoff provides time to reconvene


Illinois’ Michael Paradise performs on the pommel horse during the meet against Iowa at Huff Hall on Jan. 26. The Illini won 410.450-398.800.

By Nithin Reddy, Staff writer

The Illinois men’s gymnastics team went to Lincoln, Nebraska, to take on Nebraska and Oklahoma over the weekend.

Though Illinois secured a win over top 10 Iowa just last week, the team could not repeat that success on Saturday night. The Illini had the lowest score of the meet with 399.15 points, while the Sooners led all teams with 411.3 points and the Cornhuskers came second with 401.25 points. 

“Honestly we had a pretty awful day,” Spring said. “We had a ton of mistakes and gave away a Big Ten win.  The whole team and staff is pretty upset with the loss.”

The Illini struggled on the horizontal bars, parallel bars and floor, and the squad did not win a single event. However, there were some bright spots. Alex Diab was once again a force to be reckoned with, having the team’s second highest total on both the floor and the vault, but excelling most on the rings. He had the highest overall rings score with 14.65 points, giving him his 24th career title, a new Illini record for the event.

Another Illini who competed well was Michael Paradise.  Although Paradise competed in only one event — pommel horse — he made a big impact.  Paradise put up 14.95 points, outscoring his opponents by nearly a point and a half.  Competing in just the pommel horse allows him to focus on the intricacies of the event.

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“I would say I’m able to hone in on each of my skills during practice so I can spend my time perfecting them,” Paradise said. “It gives me a lot more time to perfect my routine.”

Additionally, Michael Fletcher had a good day for the Illini.  Fletcher had the second highest all-around score at the meet, with 78.7 points.  He was especially good on the vault where he scored 14.25 points.

The main takeaways from the meet, however, are negative.  The Illini did not perform well in any facet of the meet and were not as sharp as they were against Iowa.  The team scored 11 fewer points and were unprepared, according to the coaching staff.  On the bright side, the Illini have a long layoff before their next meet, and Spring knows this display should motivate the team.

“We’re going to be pissed off for four weeks,” Spring said. “We’ve got a Big Ten meet against Minnesota (in four weeks), so we have a lot of time to stew, and this is going to fester.”

The Illini do not go head to head with a Big Ten opponent until March.  However, they will go to Las Vegas in two weeks to compete in the Winter Cup.

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