March 17, 2013
CHICAGO - The UIC men's gymnastics team won four events, captured three first-place finishes and posted a season-high score, as it defeated No. 13 Temple, 412.550-407.650, at the Physical Education Building Sunday afternoon. David Ishida, Justin Maxwell, Bryan Pusateri and Daniel Zerbel were honored in a senior ceremony following the meet, after garnering a collection of top scores on the day.
"What a great day it was," head coach Charley Nelson said. "I am so proud of the guys. It is really starting to come together, they are believing in themselves and what we are able to do, and we are moving in the right direction."
The Flames came away with a quick pair of wins on floor and pommel horse, before going on to best Temple on parallel bars and horizontal bar, taking first place in three of the four events.
"To take a win from one of your conference rivals, it certainly helps make a statement to everyone else and a statement to ourselves about what we can do and what we can accomplish at a conference meet," Nelson added. "Temple is always one of the teams to beat at the conference championship, and is the defending champion this year, so to have a pretty solid victory against them was great."
Zerbel led the team with top scores in three events, while taking first place in two. Zerbel took first on floor with a score of 15.200, came in with another first on parallel bars with a season-high 14.650 and tallied a score of 13.900 on horizontal bar to lead all Flames for second place.
"Dan Zerbel had a great vault, good high bar set, he hit his p-bar set, which is one of the toughest in the nation, and floor, so he should maintain his number one conference ranking."
Joseph Hodges collected the other first-place finish for UIC on pommel horse with his score of 14.150, while also taking the all-around with a combined score of 83.200 and placing just behind Zerbel on parallel bars (14.250) and horizontal bar (13.750).
Fighting through injury, Ishida also competed on pommel horse to bring in a score of 13.200, while taking to parallel bars for exhibition.
"David Ishida hit pommel horse for the team score and had an exhibition on parallel bars, and even with a torn ACL, he was able to put together a great routine and I was really proud of that."
Pusateri and Maxwell placed third and fourth on rings, following a first-place tie for Temple. Pusateri scored a season-best 14.150 and Maxwell scored a 14.100.
"Bryan Pusateri was very close to his personal best on rings and had a great set on floor to get a good score for the team," Nelson noted. "Justin Maxwell gave us a scare on high bar, but where the team really relied on him on rings, he did a great job."
On vault, Brett Valin brought in a team-leading score of 14.500 to tie for second, as Jason Gaides came in with a score of 14.400 to tie for fourth.
"We have got to keep doing our job and keep working and I think we can finish where we would like to this year," said Nelson. "We are going to have some individuals with post-season berths, but I would like to see the team make it to the post season, as well. There is nothing like being on the floor with your entire team at the NCAA Championship, so we are excited about that."
Nearing the end of the season, the Flames head to Ann Arbor, Mich., to take on No. 2 Michigan at Cliff Keen Arena Saturday at 6 p.m. (CT).