The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Illinois wins four individual events in Big Ten gymnastics championships

Angel Saldivar
Senior All around #21 Sebastian Ingersoll prepares to mount the pommel horse.

After a second-place finish on Friday for Illinois men’s gymnastics with an overall score of 413.750 and a fifth-place finish for sophomore Tate Costa in the all-around with a score of 79.950, day two of the Big Ten championship concluded yesterday with its individual events portion. Overall, Illinois took first place in four out of the six events.

The top 10 athletes from each event on Friday moved on to compete in the individual finals yesterday. Illinois had a total of 16 athletes qualify in six events. On the floor were graduate students Evan Manivong and Connor McCool, along with Costa. Costa was the first to compete, and his performance earned him a seventh-place finish and a score of 13.375. While there was a lot of excitement when he started, Manivong unfortunately suffered an injury during his performance that took him out of the competition. However, McCool was able to come back and earn a tie for first place and a score of 14.500, which had the crowd going wild.

The Illini had the most athletes competing in an event, taking half of the lineup on the pommel horse. Freshman Brandon Dang and Preston Ngai, sophomore Connor Micklos and seniors Will Hauke and Sebestaion Ingersoll all put up exceptional performances on Friday. Yesterday, however, the Illini struggled on the pommel horse, with mishaps from Hauke, Ingersoll and Micklos. Ingersoll ended up in tenth place with a score of 10.450, with Micklos in front of Ingersoll with 11.350. Hauke tied for fifth overall with a score of 12.700, and Ngai took fourth place with a score of 13.575. But Dang’s impressive performance, which had the crowd jubilating, earned him a 14.800 and a first-place spot.

A trio of seniors, Ashton Anaya, Ethan Boder and Logan Myers all competed on the still rings. Both Boder and Myers tied for seventh place as they earned a score of 13.750. Ultimately, Anaya’s score of 14.200 led him to the top-place finish for the third year in a row. 

Halfway through events, with more than half of the routines completed, it was time for the second half of the meet to commence. Junior Amari Sewell and Ngai competed for their chance to win on the vault. First up was Sewell, who earned a roaring crowd reaction after a stuck landing and a score of 14.825. Later on, Ngai delivered a great performance and earned a score of 14.625. In the end, Nagi tied for fourth place, and Sewell took the first place score.

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Following Friday night’s low event scores, Ingersoll was the only Illini who moved on to the finals for the horizontal bar. Ingersoll delivered a great performance, resulting in an explosive crowd reaction, a score of 13.750 and a seventh-place finish overall.

A large University of Michigan fanbase, who were present at State Farm Center on Friday, continued with their bombastic crowd reactions yesterday. Michigan sophomore Landen Blixt, who shared the floor title with McCool, mentioned how this environment was possible.

“With the flags and everything up … kinda made it feel like a home meet which was very important to us,” Blixt said. “We tried to treat this meet like a giant home meet.”

With the meet winding down, graduate students Michael Fletcher and Hauke both competed on the parallel bars in search of wins. Huake and Fletcher had exceptional performances, with Hauke taking fifth place with a score of 13.900 and Fletcher in a tie for third place with a score of 14.050.

After Friday’s award ceremony, the Big Ten conference still had a few awards to hand out. Fletcher was named the All-Big Ten Second Team, and Anaya, Costa, Dang, McCool and Sewell were all named on the All-Big Ten First Team. The University of Michigan took the award for Big Ten Gymnast of the Year, following sophomore Fred Richard’s all-around win yesterday, with Coach Yuan Xiao also winning Big Ten Coach of the Year following the school’s first-place finish.

Pommel horse winner Dang was able to win his event in his first year competing at the collegiate level. Dang shed light on how his win is a hopeful sign for him in the years to come. 

“It’s amazing to know that I was able to achieve it,” Dang said. “Knowing that I’ll be stronger and better with my techniques on my skills.” 

Despite coming to win it all, the Illini ultimately fell short of that goal. McCool spoke on how the team had its mistakes and how it was not a perfect meet.

“Overall, the goal would have been to take the team title home yesterday,” McCool noted. “We don’t have a star person on our team. We have a team of guys who all contribute, and we showed that today.”

Illinois men’s gymnastics will be competing at the NCAA tournament on April 19-20 in Columbus, Ohio. 


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About the Contributor
Angel Saldivar, Assistant Photo Editor
My name is Angel Saldivar and I'm nearing the end of my Journalism degree at the University of Illinois and currently serve as the Assistant Photo Editor at the Daily Illini. When I'm not out taking photos, I'm diving into filmmaking with my film club (shoutout Illini Film and Video) or playing the drums. Got questions or just want to connect? Don't hesitate to email me!
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