Illini men's gymnastics sneaks past conference foe, keeps perfect record intact

By James Boyd

Three tenths.

That was the difference between winning and losing for the Illinois men’s gymnastics team when it defeated IowaRB this past weekend to improve to 7-0RB on the season.

Sophomore Chandler Eggleston noted how the results could’ve been different had he been slightly off on one of his finishes.  

“When you stick a landing you get two bonus tenths added to your routine,” Eggleston said. “Taking a small step could be the difference between winning an event or taking second place.”

Sophomore Brandon Ngai earned his second pommel horse crown in as many weeksRB, posting a score of 15.350RB in the Illini’s first event. He holds a 15.400RB average in the event, the highest in the NCAA.

Despite Ngai’s strong individual performance in the team’s first event, Illinois did not compete well at the start. Trailing the Hawkeyes, the Illini needed strong performances the rest of the competition to catch up and eventually take the lead.

“Early on we definitely struggled. Pommel horse right out the gate was tough,” associate head coach Daniel Ribeiro said. “It really was about picking back up and fighting for every tenth.”

Eggleston provided that pick-me-up, finishing first on the floor exercise with a score of 15.500RB, and putting the Illini in the lead. 

“It was nice to have back-to-back titles for the first time this year,” Eggleston said. “But I’ve definitely done better.”

After doing the same floor routine for the past three seasons, Eggleston is looking to add an upgrade to his routine. As for vault, he’s been practicing mostly on landings. 

Ending the day on parallel bars, sophomore standout Bobby Baker led the way for the Illini. He has been a consistent scorer for the team over the past two seasons.

Baker’s score of 15.200RB was his season best and earned him a share of the title.

“(This meet) was a great opportunity for the guys to feel that pressure,” Ribeiro said. “(Bobby) handled the pressure and slammed his set and that was the difference.”

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