Feb. 9, 2014
By Ben Gotz, Athletic Communications Student Assistant
USAF Academy, Colo. – The No. 6 Golden Gopher men’s gymnastics team won its second-straight meet Saturday night, defeating No. 9 Air Force on the road by a score of 434.200 to 431.550.
"This was a very satisfying win on the road," Gophers head coach Mike Burns said. "Our guys fought really hard."
While the No. 6 Gophers did not record any season highs as a team in any of the events, they were consistent throughout the night. Tonight's meet marked the first time this season the team has scored above 70.000 in all six events.
"We just went from event to event," Burns said, when asked how his team stayed consistent all night. "We just kept looking forward."
The best routine of the night belonged to Gopher senior Matt Frey, who scored a 15.400 to place first on the parallel bars, his only event of the night. The score marked a career high on the event for Frey, beating his previous best by over half a point.
"Matt's parallel bars routine definitely gets the outstanding performance of the night award," Burns said of Frey’s effort.
Along with Frey's parallel bars title, the Gophers had the champion or co-champion in six of seven events, including the all-around, only missing out on the still rings.
Seniors Adam Kern (floor exercise, 15.000) and Zack Chase (vault, 14.850) each picked up event titles, while sophomore Paul Montague, Jr. tied with Air Force's Timmy Wang for first on pommel horse. Fellow sophomore Daniel DiBenedetto won his first event title of the season, posting a 14.750 on high bar, and junior Ellis Mannon won his second all-around crown of the season with a score of 86.700.
Despite the Gophers claiming six of seven individual titles, the meet was very closely contested as Minnesota never held a lead greater than two points until the end of the final rotation.
"We kept plugging along," Burns said. "It wasn’t our best performance, but we did well enough."
The win came despite a limited Gopher line-up as Minnesota battled illness and injury. Freshmen Zach Liebler did not compete due to an illness, and Frey saw limited action due to injury. Mannon also battled through an injury en route to his all-around crown.
"It was a really hard week in our training cycle," Burns said. "But when somebody goes down, someone steps up. It’s really a testament to what this team’s goals are and where they want to be."
Even with a modified lineup, the Gophers found a way to succeed. Minnesota's score of 434.200 was less than one point shy of their season-high score (435.000), recorded last week at home against Illinois and Nebraska.
Next week, the Gophers will look to get healthier before traveling to Iowa for a three-team meet with Iowa and Nebraska. It marks the second time this season the Gophers will face each squad. The meet is set for 12 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 15.
Meet Individual Event Champions:
Floor Exercise: Adam Kern, Minnesota – 15.000
Pommel Horse: Paul Montague, Jr., Minnesota & Timmy Wang, Air Force – 15.100
Still Rings: Tyler Huebner, Air Force – 15.300
Vault: Zack Chase, Minnesota – 14.850
Parallel Bars: Matt Frey, Minnesota – 15.400
High Bar: Daniel DiBenedetto, Minnesota – 14.750
All-Around: Ellis Mannon, Minnesota – 86.700
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Gophers alum Clay Strother will be inducted into the "M" Club Hall of Fame this fall.
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