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  • Adrian Carrasco

Daniel Ribeiro finding routine in first year as Illini Men’s Gymnastics’ Head Coach

By Adrian Carrasco

Men's Gymnastics Head Coach Daniel Ribeiro talks with ISN.

Men’s Gymnastics Head Coach Daniel Ribeiro has taken the pressure of leading a Big Ten team in stride. After being part of the team for the last 11 years, Ribeiro has gotten the opportunity to make the Men’s Gymnastics team his own.

Ribeiro served as the Men’s Gymnastics Assistant Coach from 2011 through 2015, then moved his duties to his role as Illinois’s Associate Head Coach from 2015 through 2022 until reaching the head coach position this season.

His accolades as a coach include 2012 nods as the National Assistant Coach of the Year and Central Region Coach of the Year.

As an athlete, Ribeiro also spent his own collegiate career with Illinois, winning two NCAA titles on Pommel Horse in 2009 and 2011.

Additionally, Ribeiro also won competitions outside of collegiate meets in 2010, also on Pommel Horse. Though many of Ribeiro's results as an athlete come on Pommel Horse, he has also received notable results on the Floor.

Given his longstanding history with Illinois, Ribeiro understands the high work ethic and standard that the Illini are often held to.

Trying to further push the Men’s Gymnastics program, the team has started spring with a 7-1 record, as Ribeiro hopes the team will carry this momentum through the rest of the season.

The Illini Men’s Gymnastics team recently took second at a tri meet last Saturday only falling to the nation’s No. 2 team and event host Oklahoma, being defeated by less than a single point. This is the first time the Illini achieved this feat against Oklahoma since 1981.

The 404.450 points scored at this meet is also the Illini’s season high and was enough to outscore the other competitor, Air Force, by 24 points.

Despite the difference in national rank between Illinois and Oklahoma, Ribeiro said that things such as ranks don’t bother the team overall, acting instead as a motivator for the team.

At the time of the meet, Air Force sat behind Illinois in national rankings, but dropped to the number 10 spot, from 8. Oklahoma and Illinois (7) did not see a change in position after the tri meet.

During this meet, the team put together sharp performances in different events. Ian Skirkey is currently at the top in the country on Pommel Horse and the Illini’s top scorer at this meet.

Though not the big win they were hoping for, Ribeiro expressed his pride in his team for their fierce contention with strong teams in Oklahoma and Air Force.

The Illini are also led by fellow top talents Conor McCool, the country’s number two athlete on the Floor, and Amari Sewell, who continues his exceptional performances as the Big Ten’s number one athlete on Vault.

Sewell, a sophomore, has made a huge impact on the team since transferring to Illinois from the now disbanded University of Iowa Men’s Gymnastics program.

The sophomore has helped usher in a new era in Illini Gymnastics with his expressive action during his routines and cheering on the team.

Sewell, despite already being at the top of the Big Ten on Vault, continually improving, scoring a career-high 14.750 points at the tri meet, which marks the third week in a row where Sewell has raised his career best on vault

The high-level experience from Ribeiro has further strengthened the talents of the athletes in the season so far, as multiple Illini have also broken several personal bests within the last few meets.

The team is now looking forward to a meeting at Huff Hall on February 4., against fellow Big Ten competitor Penn State, another team to keep an eye on.

Penn State averages the sixth-best average score in the nation, at 400.988 points, with Illinois sitting right behind them averaging only 1.021 points less.

Penn State is also looking to bounce back from a close loss against Nebraska, where they were defeated in a 399.550 to 398.000 showing.

As of the fourth week of the season, Illinois sits behind the other Big Ten teams in a tough conference, though with a win over Penn State, the team can begin to make noise within the conference, and perhaps throughout the nation.

The Big Ten’s current leader, Ohio State, leads the top spot with an average meet score of 401.417, giving them the third-best average score in the nation.

The Illini Men's Gymnastics team is looking forward to carrying on an already strong year with upcoming Big Ten meets, hoping to continue to make improvements, and shift the national rankings in their favor.

Coach Ribeiro discussed this and more at Richmond Studio with Illini Sports Night Host Aniyah Jones ahead of the upcoming Penn State meet, which can be viewed below.

ISN Interview with Daniel Ribeiro:

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