Jan. 19, 2013
The Minnesota men’s gymnastics team began the 2013 season this evening at the 43rd Annual Windy City Invitational in Chicago. UIC hosted the event at the Physical Education Building and was joined in competition by the Gophers, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Ohio State.
Minnesota finished fourth in the event with a score of 425.750. Michigan (431.300) won the season-opening meet and was followed by Illinois (427.750), Ohio State (427.750), Minnesota, Iowa (422.350) and UIC (401.600).
“I was a little nervous,” said Gopher coach Mike Burns. “We had a hard week of training. We pushed them, but they stepped up. I was really proud of what they did. We had a fair number of hits and a fair number of sticks. Overall I would give it a B+.”
One area where the Gophers earned an A+ was on high bar. Because of injuries Minnesota used only five gymnasts on the routine, which meant that ever score had to count. At this point in the season six gymnasts usually perform a routine and five scores count. Minnesota turned in a collective 70.950 using only five gymnasts on high bar to tie Ohio State for the best result in the meet.
“High bar was the highlight of the meet for me,” said Burns. “We only had five guys, but we went five-for-five as they all hit their routines. They dealt with an adverse situation and did not let it get to them. High bar is an event that is kind of risky and pretty precise and you have to be on. Our guys were on tonight.”
Sean Bauer scored Minnesota’s highest score of the night, which was a 15.200 on the floor exercise. The routine was good enough to place him fourth in the event, but it also provided an emotional lift for the Gophers.
“Sean Bauer had a great floor exercise,” said Burns. “That was right after a missed routine, so he was able to bring us right back up. Our main focus today was to keep the momentum going. If you have a setback, you need the next guy to go up there and knock out a great score like Sean did. That was a huge spark and got us back on track.”
Harris Coleman, who has battled injuries recently, scored a 15.000 on pommel horse, which tied for third in the meet with Matt Freeman of Michigan.
“That was another big routine for us and was at the end of pommel horse after we had a couple missed routines,” said Burns
Also competing in their first meet were freshmen Michael Farquhar and Daniel DiBenedetto. Both turned in solid debuts. DiBenedetto led the Gophers on high bar (fifth overall) with a 14.400, while Farquhar turned in a 14.300 on rings and stuck his landing.
Burns was pleased with the teams overall performance, but said there is still work to be done.
“We had a couple of misses on vault and got a little work to do on parallel bars,” said the Gopher coach.
Minnesota returns to action on Jan. 26 when it begins its home schedule with the Hall of Fame meet against Air Force in the Sports Pavilion at 1 p.m.
“It is always good to come home,” said Burns. “I think our guys are going to be feeling pretty good about our preparation. We start school on Tuesday and that will help us get back on a normal schedule, which is a good thing.”
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