MINNEAPOLIS - The University of Minnesota men's gymnastics team fell to the program's alumni squad during the team's annual tune-up on Saturday afternoon at the Sports Pavilion. The alumni, who defeated the varsity team, extended their 47 year winning streak by defeating the Gophers' squad 428.10 to 428.00.
The alumni had the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of the Minnesota home crowd but the meet serves a larger purpose for the student-athletes. In Saturday's exhibition, the Gophers were split into two teams and the top five scores from both the Maroon and Gold teams for each apparatus were tallied in order to create a mock team score.
"As hard as we tried to dethrone the alumni and break their 47 year winning streak, we just couldn't knock them off," said head coach Mike Burns. "It's always great to see the alumni come back to town and show what they still are capable of."
The Gophers' varsity squad put together a solid showing on the afternoon and Burns as well as his coaching staff were pleased with the effort shown by the Maroon and Gold.
"In spite of a few rough spots I was pleased with the fight these guys showed throughout the competition," said Burns. "The start of the competition season is always an exciting time and to be able to kick it off against the alumni makes for an enjoyable afternoon at the gym."
The pace for the Gophers was set by seniors Steve Jaciuk and Jack Metcalf who earned event victories on four of the six events. Junior co-captain Paul Montague, Jr. tallied a 14.30 on pommel horse and tied with Jaciuk on still rings notching a score of 14.80. Jaciuk scored a 15.20 on both parallel bars and high bar. Metcalf won the event title for the vault with a score of 15.00. The biggest surprise of the meet was freshman Alex Wittenberg who earned a 15.00 on floor exercise to win the event.
"Steve, Jack, Paul and Alex combined for our top scores on all 6 events today and they really set the pace for the rest of the guys to follow suit," said Burns. "Senior Ellis Mannon was the top Gopher in the all-around competition and unveiled a new routine on pommel horse that still needs a little polish."
The event served as a dress rehearsal and another opportunity for the ten freshman to gain valuable experience in front of the home crowd.
Like Wittenberg, freshman Tristan Duran had a solid showing earning a 14.80 on high bar to earn a second-place finish behind Jaciuk. Luke Aldrich, Ryan Bergman, Joel Gagnon, Jack Kramer, Jordan Poganski, Jalon Stephens and Shashank Yallamraju all made their debut for the Maroon and Gold.
The Gophers begin their regular season next weekend at the Windy City Invitational. The competition will take place on Saturday in Chicago, Ill.
"Overall we need a little more consistency but with a team of ten freshmen, I was relatively pleased with the outcome of the meet today," said Burns. "Next week at the Windy City is where the season really begins."
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