Illinois men's gymnastics announces 2016 schedule

By Daniel Collins

The Illini men’s gymnastics team announced its schedule for the 2016 season on Monday.

Illinois’ first two competitions will take place at the UIC Pavilion when it faces UIC Jan. 9 ssand then contests at the Windy City Invitational Jan. 17.

The Illini opened up last year’s campaign in identical fashion, defeating UIC and placing first in a field of six at the invite. The team will face two Big Ten gymnastics powerhouses — Penn State and Michigan. The Nittany Lions, reigning Big Ten champions, defeated Illinois last season, 435.750-428.500ss.

Illinois’ regular-season finale will be against the reigning national champions — the Oklahoma Sooners. The Sooners defeated the Illini last year by a score of 457.300-434.200ss. Both teams entered that meet as the only perfect teams in the country with a 10-0 record.

The Big Ten and National Championships will be hosted by Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio. Illinois finished second at the Big Ten Championship and failed to advance to the team finals at nationals in 2015.

C.J. Maestas, who graduated in May, won the team’s lone individual national title (high bar). Three Illini won individual titles at the Big Ten Championships — Maestas (floor exercise), senior Fred Hartville (vault) and Jordan Valdez (parallel bars). Valdez graduated in May.ss

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