Illinois men’s gymnastics tied for sixth time in 90 years
March 5, 2020
Since 1930, the Illinois men’s gymnastics team has competed in over 2,100 head-to-head matchups in dual meets, tri-meets and multi-team invitationals. Of those 2,100 matchups over the last 90 years, the Illini have tied their opponent only six times.
The most recent tie in Illinois’ long history of men’s gymnastics happened on Sunday in Iowa City, Iowa, where Illinois tied Iowa 403.05-403.05. With the tie, Illinois’ season record stands at 6-3-1 (1-1-1 in conference).
“It’s rare. It’s bizarre,” said head coach Justin Spring. “It gives support to what I’ve said over the last 10 years. Every tenth (of a point) matters.”
The way the tie became official was just as bizarre. After the last event, the scoreboard read 403.05-403.02 in Illinois’ favor, a very narrow win for the Illini. Spring subsequently walked over to Iowa head coach JD Reive to chat and discuss the meet.
“I went over to JD, and I said. ‘Looks like a nail-biter,’” Spring said. “But JD told me, ‘I have a few inquiries, so hold on.’”
At the end of every college gymnastics competition, coaches are allowed to submit inquiries to the judges if they believe the score is wrong. Reive submitted inquiries on the start values of three of his gymnasts’ routines, believing the judges used the wrong start values, which in turn, lowered the scores those gymnasts received. As it turned out, the start values the judges used were off by one-tenth of a point each. When the score was adjusted, the final score was 403.05-403.05.
“It’s crazy,” Reive said, per hawkeyesports.com. “The mathematical possibility of a tie happening is rare.”
As rare as ties are, Spring isn’t amazed by the outcome. He considers the tie to be a loss, both statistically and psychologically.
“We had the win, and it felt great,” Spring said. “Then it was a tie. It was a quiet bus ride back.”
Senior Sebastian Quiana and freshman Connor McCool tied for the floor exercise title with scores of 14.700, a season-high for Quiana and a career-high for McCool. Sophomore Ian Skirkey claimed the pommel horse title with a career-high of 14.350, and senior Danny Graham earned the still rings title with a career-high of 14.150. Illinois gymnasts set another seven personal bests, another three season bests and a season-high of 70.800 on floor exercise.
“Our mistakes went down. This was one of our better hit percentages in our season,” Spring said. “I can be happy about that, but we’re missing so many of our heavy-hitting routines.”
One of those heavy-hitters is sophomore Hamish Carter. Carter injured his ankle on floor exercise, the second event of the Iowa meet, and Spring was unwilling to risk injuring Carter further. He pulled Carter from his remaining events.
“Connor McCool had to go in on vault last-minute, and Tommy Mistretta had to go in last-minute on parallel bars and high bar,” Spring said. “Parallel bars and high bar are Hamish’s two best events. That alone was probably a two or three-point swing for our team score.”
Carter had an MRI on Tuesday. The results of the MRI were not available to The Daily Illini in time for publication.
Illinois returns to Huff Hall on Saturday for a tri-meet against Penn State and Michigan, two of the best teams in the Big Ten. Michigan has not lost a single competition this season, with a perfect 10-0 record (2-0 in conference). Penn State is 10-1 (2-1 in conference), suffering the first loss of their season last weekend against Nebraska.
Spring expects Penn State and Michigan’s team scores to be over 410 points, something Illinois has been unable to accomplish this season even with their best lineup.
“It looks like a daunting task, but we are a fighting team. Our team has surprised teams in the past,” Spring said. “I’ll expect nothing less from these guys to figure out a way to tweak their routines to make sure that if we’re not the highest-scoring team on the floor, we’re going to be the most consistent team on the floor.”