No. 5 Illini fall to No. 7 Penn State

By Kieran Hampl

The No. 5 Illinois men’s gymnastics team came up short last weekend against No. 7 Penn State, losing 436.050 to 431.150, which came as a surprise after a strong week of practice for the Illini.

“This result was completely unexpected with the way we’ve been building in practice,” head coach Justin Spring said in a press release. “We are a better team than this but didn’t show it today.”

The Illini’s health continued to hurt them, and the depth once again wasn’t good enough to get the job done. 

The Illini won three titles on the day and were paced by freshman Chandler Eggleston, redshirt sophomore C.J. Maestas and freshman Matt Foster.

Eggleston won on floor, setting a personal best of 15.550. He continued his strong performance placing second with a 15.050 on vault and third on high bar with a 14.500.

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Maestas earned his fifth rings title of the season with a 15.300. He also placed strong on floor with a 15.300 earning him second place. These two performances helped him take home his third all-around title of the season.

Foster earned his second horse title of the season with a personal best of 14.800.

The biggest weaknesses for the Illini all season have been on the high bar and parallel bars and injuries continue to make it a challenge for the team. Eggleston was the only Illini who placed in the top five on the high bar.

Even after a loss, Illinois is still confident that it can make a long run throughout the NCAA tournament. The team will have the next two weeks off, except for the five gymnasts traveling to the Winter Cup. This will allow all of the injured athletes to recover and will allow the gymnasts to rework their routines.

There are only two meets left in the season before the Big Ten Championships, which means the Illini are running out of time to tweak routines; although, they know they have the potential to make a deep run.

Kieran can be reached at [email protected].