MINNEAPOLIS - The No. 10 University of Minnesota men's gymnastics team welcomed the No. 9 University of Nebraska Cornhuskers and the No. 14 University of Illinois-Chicago Flames to the third of four scheduled home meets at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday night
The Gophers defeated the Cornhuskers and Flames with an overall score of 429.900. Nebraska took second on the night (422.050), followed by the UIC (402.600). Minnesota claimed four of the events but fell short on floor exercise and vault by 1.1 and 0.55 points respectively.
"It's just so comfortable to be at home," said head coach Mike Burns. "The crowd and energy was just smoking tonight. We still had a few little errors throughout the competition that we need to tighten up but overall it was a truly exciting meet and our top score of the year so far. This was one of the meets that could be a turning point for the season."
To open the night, the Maroon and Gold took to the floor exercise and scored a team total of 71.80. Freshman Alex Wittenberg came in third on the event overall with an individual mark of 14.55. Fellow freshman Joel Gagnon tallied the second highest Minnesota score with a 14.30.
On pommel horse, the second rotation of the night, Minnesota earned the highest team score with a 68.950. Senior Ellis Mannon earned second place on the event tallying a 14.40.
In the fourth rotation of the night, Minnesota earned a 71.350 on the vault, falling shy of Nebraska's claim to the event with a score of 71.900. Senior Sean Bauer placed third on the event with an individual mark of 14.50. In his Golden Gopher debut, freshman Shashank Yallamraju tallied a 13.800.
On the parallel bar, Jaciuk claimed the event title with a score of 14.90. Earning the third and fourth top scores were Montague with a 14.40 and junior Daniel DiBenedetto, who tallied a 14.30. As a team, the Gophers earned 72.00.
Still rings proved to be a key event, as the Gophers earned the top three individual scores en route to the highest team score on the apparatus. Senior Jack Metcalf earned the top score after earning a 14.85. Jaciuk and Paul Montague. Jr. came in second and third place with scores of 14.75 and 14.70, respectively.
The final rotation of the night, the high bar, saw Gopher gymnasts occupy second through sixth place with Gagnon claiming the highest score for the team with a 14.90. Despite a fall in the middle of his routine, Jaciuk was able to continue and earned a 14.10, rounding out the Gopher placements.
"In that moment where he got up and faced getting back up there to finish out the routine, knowing Steve, he was probably thinking that he messed up for his team and all he needed to do was step-up and finish it out the best he could," said Burns. "He did just that and then stuck his dismount. That was something telling more of his character in that moment than about the score. Sports is all about challenges and how you overcome that - those are the things you carry throughout your life and I think tonight was one of those moments for him."
Next weekend, the team will travel to Iowa City as the Iowa Hawkeyes host the Gophers and Nebraska Cornhuskers. The meet is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. CT.
"This week will be lighter, physically at practice for the guys and you just hope that the mental toughness won't follow suit," said Burns. "The key thing for us right now is to figure out how we can package the performance we had tonight and bring it on the road with us."
Pochinka, Wiskus Sweep B1G Awards
3/19/2018 - M. Gymnastics
For the first time in his career Yaroslav Pochinka won the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week while Shane Wiskus won his sixth B1G Freshman of the Week honor.
Seniors Lead the Way in Final Home Meet
3/18/2018 - M. Gymnastics
The Gophers posted the second-highest home score of the season on Senior Day.
Meet Preview: Senior Day
3/17/2018 - M. Gymnastics
The No. 6 Gophers welcome California to the Maturi Pavilion this Sunday at 12:30 p.m. for their regular season finale.