(WCIA) — Alex Diab called it bittersweet. The Illini senior went out with a bang becoming the first guy in program history to win back-to-back still ring titles, sticking the landing on his 14.733 routine, cementing his legacy as one of the all time greats.
“Winning a national championship at home, it was an awesome feeling,” says Diab.
But Diab left wanting more. As a team, Illinois struggled, finishing fifth out of the super six competing in the finals. Multiple falls in the first two rotations put the Illini in a hole too big to climb out of. They ended up finishing nearly 10 points out of first.
“It was super bittersweet you know, we were super excited to be competitng in here in front of the home crowd, the team didn’t have the best competition we could have,” says Diab.
“I’m hurting for my seniors right now,” says head coach Justin Spring. “They’re just a really great group, just the most focused, hardworking, and committed team I’ve ever had. They deserve better, they just didn’t have the day…they didn’t have the day. That’s sports, right?”
The poor team performance was certainly a surprise but the biggest upset of the night was Stanford knocking off four time defending national champ Oklahoma. The Sooners had to put up a big number on their final high bar routine but couldn’t get the 14 number they were looking for, meaning their run at the top is over.