The Week In Review: Illinois' Olympic Sports

This was a big week for Illinois' Olympic Sports; the men's tennis team repeated as National Indoor Champions, and the women's soccer team inked seven players to National Letters of Intent. <br><br> Read more on the women's softball, soccer, gymnastics teams as well as the National Championship Fighting Illini Men's Tennis team in this update from IlliniBoard.com.

MEN'S TENNIS
The Fighting Illini tennis team traveled up to Seattle as the No. 1 team in the nation and the reigning USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Champion, and that is exactly how they left Seattle. The Illini Netters became the fifth team to win back-to-back Indoor National Championships, and the first to do it since UCLA, the team they defeated in the finals, did it in 1996 and 1997.

In the final match, the Illini won the doubles point in a close match as Brian Wilson and Phil Stolt fought off UCLA's Alberto Francis and Kris Kwinta 9-7 to capture the doubles point for the Illini. The Illini then ran off three quick singles matches win to successfully defend their National Championship.

The Illini's trek to the championship included wins over Tulsa, Duke, and Stanford. Below are the game scores from the Championship match against UCLA.

2004 USTA/ITA National Team Indoor Championships
Feb. 8, 2004 - Seattle, Wash. - Lloyd Nordstrom Tennis Center
(1) Illinois 4, (6) UCLA 0
Doubles
1. Wilson/Stolt (UI) def. Francis/Kwinta (UCLA) 9-7, c
2. Martin/Calkins (UI) def. Clemens/Lam (UCLA) 8-0
3. Gruendler/Surapol (UCLA) def. DeHeart/Dabir (UI) 8-4

Singles
1. Brian Wilson (UI) def. Tobias Clemens (UCLA) 6-3, 6-4, c
2. Phil Stolt (UI) vs. Chris Lam (UCLA) DNF
3. Michael Calkins (UI) vs. Alberto Francis (UCLA) DNF
4. Chris Martin (UI) def. Kris Kwinta (UCLA) 6-2, 6-0
5. Ryler DeHeart (UI) vs. Philipp Gruendler (UCLA) DNF
6. G.D. Jones (UI) def. Chris Surapol (UCLA) 6-1, 7-6 (5)

MEN'S GYMNASTICS
University of Illinois gymnast Justin Spring (Lake Braddock HS, Burke, Va.) was named NCAA Men's Gymnast of the Week by Inside Gymnastics Magazine and Big Ten Men's Gymnast of the Week on Wednesday for his performance vs. #1 Ohio State over the weekend.

WOMEN'S SOCCER
University of Illinois women's soccer coach Janet Rayfield announced today the signing of Lindsay Carstens, Kara Gostisha, Ella Masar, Mary Therese McDonnell, Erin Pilkington, Kristy Weeks and Emily Zurrer to national letters of intent. The seven student-athletes will join Rayfield's squad for the fall 2004 season.

A pair of Canadians, Kristy Weeks and Emily Zeller, headline the signing class of 2004. Both Weeks and Zeller have U16 and U17 Canadian National Team experience. Masar and McDonnell are both standouts from the state of Illinois. Urbana product Masar was a News-Gazette All-Area selection in 2002 and becomes Rayfield's second Champaign-Urbana recruit in as many years, joining Champaign Centennial's Brittany Ward. Orland Park native McDonnell led both Carl Sandburg High School and her Windy City Pride club team to regional titles in 2002. Ohio products Lindsay Carstens and Kara Gostisha teamed up to anchor the Cincinnati United Premier Club defensive unit for the last few years, while Utah native Erin Pilkington is a versatile player who is the daughter of UI Cross Country Coach Paul Pilkington.

The seven newcomers will join an Illinois squad that is coming off its best season in program history. In 2003, the Illini won the program's first Big Ten Tournament title and also set several school records on 2003, including most wins (16), most shutouts (13), least goals allowed (12) and highest national rank (9th in NSCAA poll) to name a few. With these seven student-athletes joining next year's team, Rayfield is excited about what 2004 will bring.

"The combined talents of this recruiting class include speed, height, international experience, composure, and a raw determination that will enable them to have an impact immediately," said Rayfield of her talented recruiting class. "These seven young women will come in and challenge our current squad. The exciting part is that our current squad is prepared and excited for the challenge. They know that the bigger the challenge the better our team. This class will continue to move this program forward."

WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS
The Illinois women's gymnastics team took third place Friday in a triangular event with Bowling Green and Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Bowling Green won the event with a score of 193.475, edging out Ball State with 193.425, and Illinois' score of 192.975. The Illini won the balance beam (48.750), as well as the vault (48.625) úú- that vault score tied the fifth best performance in school history.

"It's disappointing, we didn't score what we hoped," said UI Head coach Bob Starkell. "We improved in our weak events, the beam and vault, and struggled on the floor, but we were still leading going into the final rotation. We just had an off night on the bars and hopefully we'll bounce back and use this as motivation for our upcoming meet against a good Iowa State team. It was a close meet, and if we would have had one less fall on the bars, we could have won."

Freshman Cara Pomeroy brought home the only Illini victory, with a score of 9.875 on the uneven bars. Lauren Newcomb placed fifth on the vault with a score of 9.725, and tied for third place on the balance beam with a new career high of 9.800. Freshman Danye Botterman finished second on the vault with a score of 9.8. Katie Wild finished in a tie for third place on the balance beam with a score of 9.8. Co-captain Ashley Williams garnered third place on the vault with a score of 9.775, and a tie for fifth place on the floor exercise with a score of 9.750. Co-captain Kara Kapernekas scored a 9.750 on the bars, which was good for a tie for third place.

"Our freshmen did very well. Danye Botterman had another good vault. Cara Pomeroy had great bars, but slipped on the beam. Ashley Williams and Lauren Newcomb had great weeks until the bars. Those two have been putting in great all-arounds for us."

Up Next: Illinois returns to the friendly confines of Huff Hall next weekend, when they face #5 Iowa State at Huff Hall on Valentine's Day at 7 p.m. The #3 Illini men will also be taking part in the double dual. The men will be taking on #13 Temple.

MEN'S WRESTLING
The third-ranked University of Illinois wrestling team rebounded from its loss Friday with a 30-9 victory over No. 12 Wisconsin on Sunday at Huff Hall as the team improved to 11-1 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten. Individually, the Illini won seven of 10 matches, including a trio of major decisions by 133-pounder Mark Jayne and 149-pounder Anton Dietzen and 174-pounder Pete Friedl. Top-ranked Alex Tirapelle got his 26th win of the season to stay undefeated at 157 pounds.

The Illini struck first with a hard-fought 7-5 decision by fourth-ranked Brian Glynn (Jr., Orland Park, Ill.) over Brady Reinke at 184 pounds. Glynn had a 5-2 lead in the second period before Reinke got a takedown to close the gap, but a pair of escapes and riding time gave Illinois the win for a 3-0 team lead. The Badger evened the match at 3-3 with an overtime win at 197 pounds. Ryan Flaherty jumped out to a 5-0 lead with a takedown and back points in the first 20 seconds of the match, but eighth-ranked Jason Potter (Sr., St. Charles, Ill.) battled back to send the match to overtime. With no score after the sudden victory period, the match went to a tie-break period. Flaherty escaped to score a point and held Potter down during his 30 seconds to win 10-9.

Heavyweight Mike Behnke (r-Fr., Villa Park, Ill.) scored the team six points with a forfeit win in the next match, then the Badgers got another upset win as ninth-ranked Tom Clum scored a takedown at the 21-second mark of sudden victory overtime to win 9-7 over third-ranked Kyle Ott (So., Huber Heights, Ohio). Sixth-ranked Jayne (Jr., Elyria, Ohio) racked up the points over 18th-ranked Ed Gutnik with an 18-5 major decision. Leading 10-2 after two periods, Jayne had a big third with two takedowns and near fall points, to give the team a 13-6 lead. The Illini lost at 141 pounds as redshirt-freshman Michael Martin (Norfolk, Va.) lost another close match, 5-4.

The team then finished out the match with the last four wins, which began with another dominant performance by Dietzen at 149 pounds. Dietzen (Jr., Elmhurst, Ill.) scored seven takedowns and got near fall points to win the 19-6 major decision over Tony Turner. Tirapelle (So., Clovis, Calif.) got two takedowns, which was all he needed in his 6-3 decision over Tyler Turner. At 165-pounds, the match was put out of reach for the Badgers as they forfeited the second bout of the day in a win for Ben Hay (Sr., Sandwich, Ill.) In the finale, sophomore eighth-ranked Friedl (Orland Park,Ill.) got a takedown at the 43 second mark of the match to score the major decision, 10-2, over Chad Steldt.

The Illini will return to the mat on Fri., Feb. 13 as they host the Ohio State Buckeyes in the weekend¹s only matchup. Action begins at 7 p.m. at Huff Hall.


This story contains reports from the University of Illinois

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