The seventh-ranked Minnesota men’s gymnastics team opened the season with a solid performance Saturday night at the Windy City Invitational, scoring 340.350 points to place fifth in a field that included seven of the nation’s top 13 teams.
Preseason No. 1 Stanford finished with 354.450 points to take the team title followed by Illinois, Michigan and Ohio State. Host school Illinois-Chicago finished sixth, with Iowa placing seventh.
“We started the season with a decent showing,” said Gophers head coach Mike Burns. “The team showed great spirit by getting back on track quickly when faced with adversity, but we definitely had our share of mistakes that we can address next week in the gym.”
Senior Mitchell Mays earned the highest score awarded in any event in the meet, sticking a Tsukahara double pike to win the vault with 16.60 points, and junior Kit Beikmann scored a 14.900 to take second on the pommel horse to highlight the individual efforts turned in by the Golden Gophers.
Mays’ performance on the vault was especially impressive and was one of the bright spots of the meet as the Gopher senior edged defending national champion David Sender of Stanford by just 0.25. As a result, Mays will likely be ranked No. 1 in the nation in the event in next week’s rankings.
“Mitchell Mays was amazing tonight with his dynamic Tsukahara double pike vault,” Burns said. “This is one of the more difficult vaults performed in the world and Mitchell seems to have mastered it.”
In addition to Mays and Beikmann, Cole Storer and Aaron Fortunato also posted top-rated performances, with Storer scoring 15.800 to place fifth on the vault and 15.05 to take sixth on the floor exercise and Fortunato totaling 82.30 points to place fifth in the all-around competition.
Sophomore Michael Hillin was impressive as well in his season debut, according to Burns.
“Mike (Hillin) did a vey nice job on still rings and high bar and he has several other events that he is challenging to break into the lineup,” Burns said. “He's had a very steady level of improvement and could be the surprise of the team.”
Burns was additionally excited by the performance of Eddie Campbell. The junior scored a 14.80 on floor exercise and a 14.15 on parallel bars and is also beginning to open some eyes according to the Gophers’ head coach.
“Eddie is showing great composure and his transitions on floor were some of the best in the meet tonight,” Burns said.
The Minnesota men's gymnastics team returns to action on Saturday, Jan. 19, when the Gophers travel to Champaign, Ill., for a dual meet with the Illini.
MEN'S COLLEGE GYMNASTICS
Windy City Invitational Top 3 Event Finishers
Jan. 12, 2008
1. Stanford, 354.450; 2. Illinois, 347.350; 3. Michigan, 344.450; 4. Ohio State, 341.200; 5. MINNESOTA, 340.350; 6. Illinois-Chicago, 332.050; 7. Iowa, 331.750.
1. Chad Weist, Illinois, 15.450; 1. David Sender, Stanford, 15.450; 3. Eddie Hay, Ohio State 15.300.
1. Daniel Ribeiro, Illinois,15.250; 2. Kit Beikmann, Minnesota, 14.900; 3. Luke Stannard, Illinois, 14.550.
1. David Sender, Stanford, 15.350; 2. DJ Bucher, Ohio State, 14.900; 3. Bryant Hadden, Stanford, 14.700.
1. Mitchell Mays, Minnesota, 16.600; 2. David Sender, Stanford, 16.350; 3. Geoff Reins, Iowa, 16.200.
1 Wesley Haagensen, Illinois, 15.000; 2. Bryant Hadden, Stanford, 14.750; 2. Sho Nakamori, Stanford, 14.750.
1. David Sender, Stanford, 14.950; 2. Sho Nakamori, Stanford, 14.500; 3. Paul Ruggeri, Illinois, 14.400.
1. David Sender, Stanford, 89.600; 2. Neal Thompson, UIC, 82.850; 3. Anthony May, UIC, 82.450.