Feb. 1, 2013
CHICAGO – The UIC men's gymnastics team continues its stint on the road with a meet against Minnesota and Nebraska on Saturday. Competition gets underway at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minn., beginning at 7 p.m. (CT).
“It is going to be another uphill battle for the Flames this weekend,” head coach Charley Nelson said. “We will meet the Cornhuskers again, and have another challenge from the host Golden Gophers. They are both strong teams and the reality is that UIC has one of the NCAA's most difficult schedules, having already met the defending NCAA champs and our March 23 trip to Michigan.”
The Flames will be familiar with their opponents on Saturday, as they are returning from a meet against Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., on Jan. 27, after suffering a 423.300-397.500 loss, and previously met with Minnesota at the Windy City Invitational on Jan. 19.
Through competition this season, Bryan Pusateri, Joseph Hodges, Justin Maxwell, Brett Valin, David Ishida and Dan Zerbel lead UIC with top scores in their respective events. Pusateri controls floor with 14.400, Hodges has a hold on pommel with 14.400, as well, and Maxwell has turned out a 14.700 on rings. Valin leads on vault with 14.650, Ishida owns best score on parallel bars with 14.450 and Zerbel rounds out on high bar with 14.050.
“UIC will need to keep its eyes off of the scoreboard and focus on our job,” Nelson added. “We have the personnel to challenge Nebraska and Minnesota and I am looking for some strong individual performances, too. Dan Zerbel will make his season debut on floor exercise and Justin Maxwell, Jason Gaides and Brett Valin will dazzle the crowd with their vaulting. If those three are on, we will make up a lot of ground.”
“Just as importantly we'll need to hit pommel horse. We've averaged a 75% hit ratio on that event the past two weeks, but we'll be looking to Lukasz Adamczyk to break out of his early season slump. When he starts hitting, he will be able to carry the pommel horse squad.”
Nebraska enters Big Ten competition with Minnesota after its win over the Flames. The Cornhuskers continue to sit with a No. 9 ranking and a team average of 421.367.
Minnesota improved its national ranking to No. 6 following a 430.600-404.450 win against Air Force on Jan. 26, its first competition after the Windy City Invitational. Its team average also increased to 428.175.