Gagnon, Liebler, Wittenberg will lead the Gophers during the 2017 season
Gophersports.com takes a look back on the 2015 men's gymnastics season
Head coach Mike Burns and his assistants earn regional recognition
Senior Ellis Mannon defended his Big Ten pommel horse title on Saturday
Minnesota placed fourth as a team at the 2015 Big Ten Championships on Friday.
The 2017 season marked head coach Mike Burns' 13th season at the helm of the Gopher men's gymnastics program and it was a memorable one. Minnesota placed fifth at the NCAA Championships, the program's highest finish in 15 years and best in his tenure. Burns was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year. During the season, Justin Karstadt was named the Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Year, Alex Wittenberg was named Big Ten Champion on floor exercise and four Gophers earned five All-America honors at the NCAA Championships.
In 2016, Burns led Minnesota to the team to the NCAA Team Finals for the first time since 2007. The Gophers' head coach earned several regional and local accolades throughout the season including the CGA Central Region Head Coach of the Year and the the University of Minnesota's Men's Head Coach of the Year.
Burns began laying the foundation for the future of the Gopher program in 2005, his first year as Minnesota's head coach.
In just his third year at the helm (2007), Burns led the Golden Gophers to the NCAA Team Finals for the first time since 1990. According to the Gophers mentor, qualifying for the NCAA Team Finals (top six) is definitely the goal every season.
"The only way to win the NCAA title is to get to the team finals, so that's a goal on an annual basis for us," Burns said. "Winning a national title would be a gift I truly want to give to the entire Gopher gymnastics alumni community, many of whom still live right here in the Twin Cities."
A large part of the plan revolves around recruiting the best student-athletes in the country, bringing them into the Gopher athletic department family and creating champions. Burns has developed into a solid recruiter since setting up shop in Cooke Hall. Talented gymnasts continue to seek out the Maroon & Gold of Minnesota gymnastics.
Burns, a native of Norwood, Mass., came to the Gophers from Michigan where he was assistant men's coach since 1997. Burns received the National Assistant Coach of the Year award in 1999, while helping lead Michigan to the 1999 NCAA Championship. He received the same honor in 2000, after leading the Wolverines to the second of two consecutive Big Ten team titles. During his tenure at Michigan, he coached five national champions, 37 All-Americans, and 14 Big Ten champions.
Prior to his stint in Ann Arbor, Mich., Burns was assistant coach at the University of Iowa from 1980 to 1991. During his time with the Hawkeyes, Burns was named the 1989 National Assistant Coach of the Year, marking the first of three times in which he would earn that award. Burns helped lead Iowa to the 1986 Big Ten Championship and aided the team in qualifying for the NCAA Championships in eight-straight seasons from 1984-1991. He coached 16 Big Ten individual champions and 15 NCAA All-Americans while at Iowa. Burns was also a member of the USA National Team coaching staff from 1986-90 and coached four U.S. National Team members.
Burns also has extensive international coaching experience. He most recently served as assistant coach for Team USA at the 2007 World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany where Gopher alum Guillermo Alvarez placed fourth in the world on floor exercise. He was also the head coach for the 2007 Pan Am Games Team in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the team earned a bronze medal. Individually, Guillermo Alvarez won the bronze medal in the all-around and the silver medal on the floor exercise.
In October 2006, Burns again served as the assistant coach for Team USA at the World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark with Gopher alums Clay Strother and Guillermo Alvarez. He served in the same capacity in a tri-meet with USA, France, and Switzerland held in Paris in June 2006.
In 2005, Burns served as an assistant coach for Team USA as they earned the gold medal at the Pan American Championships, and he also was an assistant for Team USA at the Paris Bercy World Cup Competition. He was the head coach of the Gold Medal USA Team at the 2003 Jurassic Classic in Calgary, Alberta. Burns also served as assistant coach for Team USA at the 1999 World University Games in Mallorca, Spain and was the head coach for the USA Team at the International Gymnastics Cup in Acapulco, Mexico. In 1987, Burns was the delegation leader and head coach of the USA team at the Tournament of Champions in Cottbus, East Germany, and he was an assistant coach for the USA team against Canada at Prince Edward Island, Canada in 1990.
Outside of his collegiate coaching career, Burns has also worked at the Junior Olympic level. He served as head coach at the Albuquerque (N.M.) Gymnastics School from 1994-97. During that time, he qualified 11 gymnasts to the 1997 Junior National Championships and 10 gymnasts to the 1996 Junior National Championships, where he coached the Class II National All-Around champion.
Burns has been an ambassador for gymnastics for more than 20 years and has served in several administrative roles for the betterment of the sport. He currently serves as president of the College Gymnastics Association after serving as vice president from 2004-2008. He has been a member of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors since 2000 and was recently re-elected to the board as one of three representatives of the Advisory Council, a group of 19 organizations that have affiliation with USA Gymnastics. He has also been a member of the USA Gymnastics Finance Committee since 2000. He held the position of vice president of the US Elite Coaches Association for Men from 1998-2002 before taking over as president in 2002.
Burns received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Geological Sciences from Penn State University in 1981. He was married to Dr. Stephanie Devaney in July 2008.
Five Gophers Earn Academic All-America Honors
With five honorees named today, Minnesota now boasts a total of nine Academic All-Americans for the 2016-17 academic year.
Fystrom Retires After 36 Years
After 36 years as an assistant coach for the Minnesota men’s gymnastics team, Russ Fystrom has announced his retirement.
Gopher Teammates Set for Canadian Championships
Minnesota men’s gymnastics teammates Joel Gagnon and Justin Karstadt will compete at the 2017 Canadian Championships in Artistic Gymnastics this weekend in Montreal, Quebec.