NORMAN, Okla. -- The University of Minnesota men's gymnastics team narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA Team Finals to be held on Friday as they placed fourth in the NCAA National Qualifier on Thursday afternoon. The Gophers finished two tenths of a point behind Big Ten foe, Penn State, who earned the final spot in the Team Finals. The Golden Gophers combined for a team score of 432.70.
Nine Gophers will compete in tomorrow's session as the top three all-around competitors not on one of the qualifying teams, plus the top three individuals on each event not already qualified on a team or as an all-around competitor, advance to Friday's competition.
Senior all-arounderEllis Mannon finished in a tie for fifth place with a score of 82.60 to advance to the all-around finals on Friday evening. Mannon earned his highest score of the afternoon on pommel horse where he tallied a 15.05.
Senior Steve Jaciuk (high bar and still rings) is the lone Gopher to qualifier for more than one event. Senior Jack Metcalf (still rings), juniors Paul Montague, Jr. (parallel bars) and Danny DiBenedetto (high bar) and sophomore Zach Liebler (floor exercise) all advanced to the individual competition. Joining the six seasoned veterans are three standout freshman who made their NCAA Debut on Thursday afternoon. Joel Gagnon (floor exercise), Yaroslav Pochinka (vault) and Jalon Stephens (high bar) will all represent the Maroon and Gold in tomorrow's competition.
A trio of freshmen made their NCAA Championship debut to kick off the 2015 NCAA National Qualifier on floor exercise for the Gophers. Jack Kramer, Alex Wittenberg and Joel Gagnon all contributed high scores to the Maroon and Gold's overall team score while sophomore Zach Liebler pacaed the Gophers with a 15.20 on the event. Senior Sean Bauer added a 14.70 to help Minnesota post its season-high floor exercise team event score of 74.30.
Minnesota transitioned to the pommel horse for the second rotation of the afternoon as defending NCAA Pommel Horse champion, Ellis Mannon, tallied a 15.05. Junior Paul Montague, Jr. posted a solid score of 14.80 on the apparatus while freshman Tristan Duran earned the third-highest Gopher score with a 14.10. The Maroon and Gold finished the second rotation with a team tally of 71.650.
The third rotation found the Maroon and Gold on still rings where senior Jack Metcalf shined for Minnesota. He tallied a 15.250, his second-highest score of the season, to lead the Gophers to a team score of 73.150 on the event. Montague and redshirt freshman Mitchell Soukup rounded out the top three Minnesota scores, tallying 14.50 and 14.20, respectively.
Freshman Yaroslav Pochinka continued his epic freshman campaign when he tallied the highest score for the Maroon and Gold on vault. He finished in a tie for third place overall. With his 15.10 on the afternoon, he has successfully score a 15.10 or higher in each of his sixth collegiate vaults this season. Bauer tallied a 14.40 while freshmen Gagnon and Duran posted 14.30 and 14.20. The high score from Pochinka helped the Gophers secure a 72.05 on vault.
The freshman class extended its dominant debut as Jalon Stephens scored a 14.80 to lead the Gophers to a 69.70 on parallel bars. Montague and Duran rounded out the top three Minnesota scores on the event.
Three Gophers tallied 14.60s in their final rotation of the afternoon as DiBenedetto, Stephens and Jaciuk contributed solid performances for the Maroon and Gold. Mannon and Montague contributed 14.00 and 14.05, respectively to the Gophers final team tally.
Stanford, California and Penn State advanced to Friday's team competition from the first qualifying session. Friday's competition, which includes the team and all-around finals, begins at 7 p.m. CT live from Lloyd Noble Centera in Norman, Okla.
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