The University of Minnesota men’s gymnastics team earned its first top-five finish since 2002 at the NCAA Championships. The Gophers scored a 414.200 for fifth place on Saturday night at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.
“It was a hard fought battle tonight,” head coach Mike Burns said. “We had some physical setbacks that took an emotional toll on the team. The group did a good job fighting all the way through.”
The Gophers competed against a tough field as Oklahoma earned their third-straight national title (431.950). Ohio State took second (423.700), Illinois placed third (422.100), Stanford picked up fourth (421.500), and Nebraska finished sixth (412.900).
Four Golden Gophers collected five All-America accolades, including Zach Liebler on floor, Vitali Kan on vault, Tristan Duran on parallel bars and high bar, and Jalon Stephens on high bar. Liebler closed his career as a four-time All-American. These were the first All-America honors for Kan, Duran and Stephens.
Minnesota started the night on high bar, and scored a 66.800, having to include an injury replacement deduction after Timmy Kutyla went down. Stephens tied for third place with a 14.500. Duran followed with a 14.350, which earned him a share of eighth. Shaun Herzog, who was originally not in the lineup, scored a 13.350 for 29th. Joel Gagnon tied for 30th with a 13.300, and Justin Karstadt’s 12.300 finished 42nd.
On floor, the Gophers recorded a 69.750. Liebler tied for sixth with a 14.400. Kan finished with a 14.250 for a share of 14th place. Gagnon tied for 27th with a 13.850, and Luke Aldrich scored a 13.800 for 29th. Alex Wittenberg added to Minnesota’s total with a 13.450 for 35th.
Minnesota counted two falls in its 67.300 score on pommel horse. Wittenberg was the team’s top finisher with a 13.800 for for a share of 18th place. Kan posted a 13.700, which was a tie for 22nd. Duran earned a share of 25th place with a 13.550, and Karstadt followed for 29th with a 13.450. Aldrich scored a 12.800 for 40th.
The Gophers scored a 68.250 on rings. Stephens again led the team with a 14.100 and tied for 15th. Kan tied for 26th with a 13.800, and Karstadt scored a 13.700 for 30th place. Yaroslav Pochinka notched a 13.550 for a share of 37th. Senior Mitchell Soukup closed out his career with a 13.100, which tied him for 40th.
On vault, Minnesota tallied 71.900 points. Kan earned a 14.750 for eighth place. Pochinka followed with a 14.700 to share ninth place. Liebler completed his last collegiate event with a 14.500 to tie for 16th place. Karstadt finished 22nd with a 14.300. Also, contributing was Gagnon’s 13.650, which placed 36th.
Minnesota finished the meet with a strong 70.200 on parallel bars. Duran matched his season-best score with a 14.500 for eighth place. Ryan Bergman finished 16th with a season-high 14.250. Karstadt scored a 14.050 for 25th, Gagnon took 33rd (13.750) and Ben Winkel placed 35th (13.650).
Karstadt tied for 11th place in the all-around competition, scoring an 81.750.
“I am really proud of this group,” Burns said. “There is such a high level of resiliency on this team. We’re closing out a successful season with a fifth-place finish and five All-America honors. That is something we will continue to build upon.”
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