March 29, 2014
By Ben Gotz, Athletic Communications Student Assistant
LINCOLN, Neb. – After the 2014 Big Ten Championships individual event finals, Minnesota junior Ellis Mannon can truly call himself a “golden” Gopher. Mannon won the B1G pommel horse title to lead the Gophers on day two of the B1G competition in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday evening.
Mannon scored a 15.325, his second-highest pommel horse score of the season, en route to his B1G crown. He finished as the Big Ten runner-up as a sophomore in 2013.
"Ellis knew he was up against some tough competition, and it was just 'let the best man win'," head coach Mike Burns said. "And Ellis was the best man tonight."
Mannon is the Gophers' first Big Ten event champion since teammate Zack Chase tied for first on vault in 2011, and he won the program's first pommel horse title since Kit Beikmann in 2007. Mannon actually had a former Big Ten pommel horse champion cheering him on at today's meet too, in Gophers assistant coach Russ Fystrom.
Three other Gophers joined Mannon in representing Minnesota in the B1G event finals, all with previous Big Ten finals experience.
Sophomore Jack Metcalf was the first Gopher gymnast to compete, earning a score of 15.175 on the still rings, which placed him in a tie for fifth place. The score and finish are improvements for Metcalf, who finished seventh in the B1G meet last year with a score of 14.825.
Metcalf also managed to stick his landing after working on his dismount all week in practice.
“Jack has been working on his execution, and it’s been paying off,” Burns said. “It was a great accomplishment for him tonight.”
Senior Zack Chase was the Big Ten vault champion his freshmen year, and this yeaer marked his third trip to the event finals. Chase finished third on vault with a score of 15.100. Chase returned to the B1G podium this season after missing the 2013 championships due to injury.
“It was great to see Zack come back to his form,” Burns said. “He was fighting hard for it. It was a battle out there and he was ready to go.”
Junior captain Steve Jaciuk competed in two event finals, parallel bars and high bar. This year marked Jaciuk’s third trip to event finals in high bar, but his first appearance in parallel bars.
Jaciuk finished fifth in parallel bars with a score of 15.175 and took seventh in high bar with a score of 14.700. Jaciuk stuck both his landings and also performed a skill he hadn’t quite trusted for the team competition.
“Steve knows how to step up,” Burns said. “Tonight he did a really good job. It’s a tribute to his abilities, hard work and dedication to be in the Big Ten finals.”
After the event finals, the annual B1G awards were handed out for the 2014 Big Ten men’s gymnastics season.
Mannon was honored as a First Team All-Big Ten selection, while Chase made the second team. This is Mannon’s first time making the first team, as he was a second team selection last year. Chase has been a first and second team selection previously during his Gopher career.
Senior Justin Morinishi received the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, which is annually awarded to students who distinguish themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior.
"Yoshi always comes into the gym with a smile on his face and a positive attitude,” Burns said. “He really epitomizes what you want from a student-athlete. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Overall, Burns said he was pretty happy with how event finals turned out.
"I'm very proud of what the team did tonight,” Burns said. “Today was a pretty successful evening for the Gophers."
The Big Ten Championships individual event finals came one day after the team competition, where the Gophers took fifth with a score of 429.150.<, p="">
Next, the Gophers will prepare for the NCAA Qualifying Round, which will take place in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Thursday, April 10. The 2014 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships will take place April 11-12.
2014 Big Ten Award Winners
Coach of the Year: Kurt Golder (Michigan)
Freshman of the Year: Sean Melton (Ohio State)
Gymnast of the Year: Sam Mikulak (Michigan)
Sportsmanship Award Winners
C.J. Maestas (Illinois)
Mark Springett (Iowa)
Adrian de los Angeles (Michigan)
Justin Morinishi (Minnesota)
C.J. Schaaf (Nebraska)
Alex Johnson (Ohio State)
Preston Gall (Penn State)
First Team All-Big Ten
Chandler Eggleston (Illinois)
Trevor Howard (Penn State)
Sam Mikulak (Michigan)
Sean Melton (Ohio State)
Jake Martin (Ohio State)
C.J. Maestas (Illinois)
Trevor Howard (Penn State)
Ellis Mannon (Minnesota)
Second Team All-Big Ten
Tristan Perez-Rivera (Michigan)
Craig Hernandez (Penn State)
Chad Mason (Illinois)
Robbie Kocks (Nebraska)
Paul Rizkalla Jr. (Michigan)
Zack Chase (Minnesota)
Jordan Valdez (Illinois)
Syque Caesar (Michigan)
Fystrom Retires After 36 Years
After 36 years as an assistant coach for the Minnesota men’s gymnastics team, Russ Fystrom has announced his retirement.
Gopher Teammates Set for Canadian Championships
Minnesota men’s gymnastics teammates Joel Gagnon and Justin Karstadt will compete at the 2017 Canadian Championships in Artistic Gymnastics this weekend in Montreal, Quebec.
Incoming Gophers Shine at Junior Olympic Nationals
Two future Gophers won national titles in the all-around competitions and combined for six titles in total at this past weekend's Junior Olympic National Championships.