New event format to be used in Illinois, Minnesota meet

By Daniel Collins

The Illinois men’s gymnastics team will compete in a different event format this weekend against Minnesota.

In a typical dual meet, the two squads don’t compete in the same event at the same time and don’t compete in the events in the same order. Illinois head coach Justin Spring said this format makes the sport hard to follow, mainly because it makes it difficult for the average fan to keep up with the score. With events varying in score, sometimes it is hard to determine a winner until the meet is finished.

When the Illini host Minnesota, both teams will compete in the same events at the same time and alternate turns.

“Our mission is to revamp college gymnastics as we know it to make it more of an understandable team versus team (competition)” Spring said. “That’s what university athletics is about. We’re an individual sport struggling with that.”

Trying to revamp the meet format is something that Spring has been looking to accomplish the past few seasons. When Illinois faces Stanford later this season on March 6, a new scoring system will be used that he and assistant coach Daniel Ribeiro created. The system will be similar to a faceoff. One member from each team will compete against each other for a single point. Judges will also keep score, but that accumulated total won’t be announced until the end of the meet.

For the third week in a row, Illinois will be facing top-10 competition. The Gophers jumped to No. 10 in the rankings after defeating the Air Force Academy on Saturday. The Illini currently rank fourth.

Spring will look to place junior C.J. Maestas and freshman Bobby Baker back into more events against Minnesota.

Unlike last week against Ohio State, Illinois will make more use of Baker and Maestas.

Baker, who has impressed both his coaches and teammates early on this season, is still looking to advance his routines.

“I’m definitely not at my full potential,” Baker said. “Training with (the coaches) is slow progress, but they’ll get me to where I need to be. At this point, I’m only about halfway there.”

Receiving more rest at this stage of his career seems ideal for Maestas, who has reached the point where he is trying to master the mental aspects of gymnastics.

“I’ve noticed a lot of changes in my body,” Maestas said. “I’m more of the meditation type now before events. I have full difficulty and my routines are kind of dangerous, so I have to be focused.”

Daniel can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @collins_d2.