IOWA CITY, Iowa — Third-ranked Illinois captured a convincing 350.450-337.800 victory against No. 12 Iowa on Saturday night at Carver Hawkeye Arena to close out the regular season. As a team, the Orange and Blue won all six events, while C.J. Maestas took home three event titles en route to his fourth all-around crown this season.
“Everyone stepped up,” Illinois head coach Justin Spring said. “It wasn’t a perfect hit percentage, but I’m pretty happy with how the team competed. Judging was tight but fair, and it was a solid competition for us overall. Now, we’ve got to keep busy in the next three weeks and just keep ironing little things out.”
The Illini got off to a solid start on pommel horse, sweeping the top four spots. Yoshi Mori led the Illinois effort with his fourth crown of the season and second on that apparatus with a 14.750, followed by Cole Smith (second; 14.450), C.J. Padera (third; 14.350) and Maestas (fourth; 14.300).
The Orange and Blue continued that success with a season-best floor performance (60.400), highlighted by Maestas’ first title of the night and third on that event this year, matching his career-high floor score with a 15.600. Mori and Vince Smurro tied for second with 14.950s, marking Smurro’s season high, while Padera rounded out the top four with a season-best 14.900.
On vault, Maestas took home his second title of the evening and first on vault this year, tying Alex Varga with a 14.700. The win marked Varga’s first crown this season and second in his career.
The Illini had a solid night on rings as well, as Maestas led the charge with his third first-place performance of the night, matching his career-high score with a 15.600 to collect his team-leading sixth rings title of 2012. Meanwhile, Anthony Sacramento took third with a 14.600. Kyle Moe, Austin Phillips and Mike Wilner tied for fourth (14.300), marking a season-high rings score for Phillips.
Jordan Valdez led the Illini on parallel bars, capturing his third title of the year with a season-high 15.150. Smurro finished second with a career-best 14.600, while Padera tied for fourth (14.450).
The Illini ended the night by sweeping the top three spots on high bar. Phillips collected his second title of the season and first on that apparatus this year with a 14.600, followed by Padera, who took second with a 14.250. Valdez captured his second top-three finish of the night with a 14.200 to finish third.
In the all-around, C.J. Maestas took home his fourth crown of the night with an 86.700, matching his career-high single-meet title total. With the win, Maestas leads the team this season in both all-around (four) and overall (16) titles. Meanwhile, Mori finished second, shattering his season-high all-around score with an 85.550.
“This was another chance for C.J. to get an all-around opportunity,” Spring said. “It was really fast-paced, and he was definitely tired by the end of the night but pushed through. He’s in great shape, and this was another great chance to get him prepared for the postseason for both Big Tens and NCAAs.”