Jan. 25, 2014
By: Ben Gotz, Athletic Communications Student Assistant
MINNEAPOLIS - Four Gophers won event titles as the No. 7 Golden Gopher men's gymnastics team hosted a dual meet with top-ranked Oklahoma at the Sports Pavilion Saturday afternoon.
Minnesota improved its overall team score for the second-straight week but ultimately fell to the Sooners, 431.900-427.650. The Gophers also beat their previous season-high scores in still rings (73.450) and floor exercise (73.450).
Junior Ellis Mannon took first on pommel horse (14.950), junior Sean Bauer won the still rings competition (15.100), sophomore Paul Montague, Jr. finished first on parallel bars (14.800), and senior Zack Chase won the vault (15.200) to lead the Gophers against the Sooners. Oklahoma picked up titles on floor exercise and high bar.
"It was very encouraging to see," head coach Mike Burns said of his team's effort. "It's a little nerve-wracking going out and facing the number-one ranked team, but our guys were ready and stayed with them the whole meet."
Several Gophers came up big in their routines, most notably the winner of the meet's Louis J. Cooke Award, Sean Bauer. In addition to his win on still rings, Bauer tied for third in the floor exercise (14.900). He also scored a 14.500 on vault.
"Sean struggled a little last week, but he really came out and had a good meet for us," Burns said. "His floor routine was really impressive."
The senior class also came up big for the Gophers in the meet, as seniors Matt Frey and Justin (Yoshi) Morinishi both had strong days competing in three events for the Gophers. Chase's 15.200 on vault was the Gophers' highest score of the meet as well.
"When you have strong senior leadership, you need them to step up for you, and our guys did that today," Burns said. "That was really great to see."
The Gophers opened up the meet in style on the floor exercise, beating their score on the event from last week by 3.800 points. The Gophers executed on every single routine in the event, with no gymnast recording a score below 14.500. Bauer and Morinishi led Minnesota with scores of 14.900 on floor.
"We didn't execute as well as we could have on floor last week," Burns said. "So that was something we stressed all week, and it was good to see them go out and perform like that."
On their next event, however, the Gophers slipped a little, as execution issues hurt their scores on the pommel horse. The Gophers battled back from their mistakes however, and after five rotations the Gophers were still right on the heels of their top-ranked opponents. Ellis Mannon led Minnesota on pommel horse with a score of 14.950.
"We definitely slipped at some points, but that's the beauty of gymnastics," Burns said. "The next guy can come up and get a team back on track."
Minnesota's final performance of the meet came from junior captain Steve Jaciuk on the high bar, solidifying the Gophers' season-best 427.650.
The Gophers were also scheduled to host the University of Illinois-Chicago in today's meet, but the Flames were unable to make it to the meet because snowstorms forced flight cancellations in Chicago.
Minnesota remains at home this week, and next Saturday the Gophers welcome Big Ten rivals Nebraska and Illinois to the Sports Pavilion. The meet will take place at 7 p.m. CT.
Floor: Alec Robin, Oklahoma, 15.200
Pommel Horse: Ellis Mannon, Minnesota, 14.950
Still Rings: Sean Bauer, Minnesota, 15.100
Vault: Zack Chase, Minnesota, 15.200
Parallel Bars: Paul Montague, Jr., Minnesota, 14.800
High Bar: Will Clement, Oklahoma, 14.600
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