Ruggeri, Mizoguchi, Maestas advance at US Winter Cup Challenge

Three gymnasts on the No. 2 Illinois men’s gymnastics team are one step closer to their Olympic dreams. Seniors Tyler Mizoguchi and Paul Ruggeri and freshman C.J. Maestas advanced to the final session of the 2012 U.S. Winter Cup Challenge on Thursday night. They will compete in the final round Saturday night.

The other three Illinois gymnasts, senior Anthony Sacramento, junior Austin Phillips and freshman Mike Wilner did not advance.

Illinois volunteer assistant coach David Sender, 2008 U.S. Champion, also advanced to the final round in his second competition since retiring in 2009.

Ruggeri currently stands at seventh overall in the all-around and fourth in National Team points. Maestas is currently leading the field in rings and is tenth in the all-around and 13th in National Team Points. Mizoguchi is 12th in the all-around and 28th in National Team Points.

There are eight open spots on the U.S. Senior National Team. Gymnasts selected to the team will be on it until the 2012 Visa Championships in June. The eight slots are given to: the top all-arounder not already on the team, the top four gymnasts with National Team points, two gymnasts selected by the Men’s Program Committee and one chosen by the national team coordinator.

The selections for the national team will be made Saturday night following the final competition. National champions on all events will be named based on an average between the two night’s scores.