The University of Minnesota men's gymnastics team avenged a loss from three weeks ago when it beat Iowa 428.750 - 416.300 on Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers were upset by the Hawkeyes in Iowa City on Feb. 8.
"It was a pretty convincing victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes," said Minnesota coach Mike Burns. "Guys stepped up and it was nice to be at home after being on the road for three weeks. It was a much needed victory."
Saturday's meet, which was the first home contest for the Gophers since they beat Nebraska and UIC on Feb. 2, marked a change in scoring this year for men's gymnastics. Previously, six gymnasts competed in each event and only the top five scores counted. Today, five gymnasts competed and five scores counted. The luxury of dropping your lowest score is no longer an option.
"We came off the floor with one miss," said Gopher coach Mike Burns. "We were not sure what to expect. We looked a little tentative on floor, which is usually a good event for us."
Minnesota's second event was the pommel horse, where it was not tentative at all. The event has been a bugaboo for Minnesota, but against Iowa the Gophers erupted for a season-high 71.400. It was only the second time the Gophers scored above 70.000 on the event this year (70.950 at Oklahoma on Feb. 16). Last week at UIC, Minnesota recorded a 66.350, but it bounced back in a big way this week.
"They know that every score counts," said Burns. "That has been a little bit of a struggling event for us this year. But we put it together and pretty much put the nail in the coffin for the meet in our second event. That allowed us to exhale and just focus on doing our job and finish the meet off. They did a nice job out there."
The Gophers posted the top four scores on the pommel horse and Ellis Mannon dazzled the hometown crowd with a superb 15.050 to win the event. Mannon's career high on the event is a 15.100, which he set earlier this year at home against Air Force.
Minnesota led 214.300 - 206.850 after three events, and never looked back as it improved to 3-0 at home this year. The Gophers next home meet is March 23 against No. 1 Penn State, but before that the team heads to Illinois for a 7 p.m. meet against the Illini on March 8.
That meet will feature head-to-head competition, as both teams will be on the same event battling against one another.
"It is going to be fun," said Burns. "The Big Ten Network is really excited about the meet and will show it on tape-delay. It is going to be a head-to-head matchup in each event. This is the format that I competed in during my college days. Every guy will know who he is going up against. It will be a head-to-head matchup and one point will go to the winner. We had to get through this week before we start focusing on it, but the guys are looking forward to it."
The traditional scoring system will still be used, but in the head-to-head format the winning gymnast will earn one point for his team. So at the end of the meet, in addition to the traditional final score, there could also be a final of 16-14, 17-13 or 20-10, as there 30 possible points available.
Day Two: Winter Cup Challenge
Stephens finished 23rd in the all-around competition, while alum Mannon finished fifth on pommel horse. Incoming freshman Wiskus also competed in the all-around finals, finishing 12th.
Day One: Winter Cup Challenge
Stephens, Wiskus, Mannon advance to the 2017 Winter Cup Challenge finals this Saturday, Feb. 18. in Las Vegas, Nev.
Gophers Duo Set for Winter Cup Challenge
Minnesota juniors Tristan Duran and Jalon Stephens are off to Las Vegas, Nev. for the 2017 Winter Cup Challenge.