Jan. 8, 2013
The University of Minnesota men’s gymnastics team will hold its final preseason tune-up this Friday at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion when it hosts its annual Alumni Meet. The meet is free and open to the public.
For the alumni – who have won 45 straight against the Gophers – it is all fun and games and a nice way to rekindle forgotten memories and see former teammates and friends.
“It is always fun to have the older guys come back,” said coach Mike Burns. “Reid Gysland, who was a Gopher from 1977-79 is going to compete again. I think he has been at every single Alumni Meet since his competition days. Tim LaFleur, who is pushing 60, is going to be in the meet and will compete in two events. This meet brings back some memories for them from their time on the team.”
And for the younger members of the alumni team?
“They are always excited, especially the guys who finished their eligibility last year, because during their four years of varsity competition against the alumni they were 0-4,” said Burns. “So they are hoping they can finally have a victory in the Alumni Meet.”
Joining Gysland and LaFleur on the the alumni team are Thomas O'Brien, Aaron Fortunato, Alex Quast, Reid Gysland, Andre Berry, Kevin Green, Russell Dabritz, Guillermo Alvarez, Travis Heaver, Chris Harrington, Clay Strother and Jesse Moravec.
Burns likes the elder Gophers chances.
“They have won 45 straight years and the chances of them not winning this year are pretty slim,” he said.
The meet may be fun for the former Gophers, but for the current Minnesota team it is serious business. The Gophers begin the season in earnest on Jan. 19 at the Windy City Invitational in Chicago, so this is their final prep before the scores count for real. For some, their performance will dictate if they are in the lineup next week.
“We will make some lineup decisions based on how some guys do,” said Burns. “There is a lot riding on it and obviously all the guys want to do well. We will see who is most prepared physically and especially who is prepared the most mentally to get the season underway.”
The meet also provides a nice change of pace for the Gophers.
“The competition environment is huge to get back into,” said Burns. “We trained at the Sports Pavilion yesterday and it is massive compared to Cooke Hall where we train. A lot of these guys have not competed since April, so it has been a long time since they have been out there. It is a nice chance to see these guys raise their hands in front of judges before the season starts.”
Preview: Gophers set for quad at Stanford
Minnesota will travel this weekend to compete against Stanford, and the National Teams from both Japan and Canada.
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.