Jan. 15, 2013
The 2013 version of Minnesota Men’s Gymnastics is ready for the season to get underway. The Gophers were ranked No. 7 in the Pre-Season Coaches Poll.
After finishing in eighth place at the 2012 NCAA Championships the Gophers are looking to move up the national rankings throughout the 2013 campaign in an effort to qualify to the NCAA Team Finals for the first time since 2007.
“The competition for the top six spots at the NCAA finals is as fierce as every year,” said Minnesota coach Mike Burns. “It’s always a great battle, and this year will be no different.”
Burns, who is in his ninth year leading the Gophers, will rely heavily on an experienced junior class with help from a solid sophomore class and a soon-to-be-tested freshman squad. The Gophers lone senior is Adam LaFleur, who is competing as a fifth-year senior.
“Adam brings a wealth of experience that will serve us well and help lead the team,” said Burns. “But the junior class will be the heavy hitters and they will need to bring their best performance to the gym every weekend from now until the Big Ten championships and the NCAA championships in April.”
“Harris and Josh will be an important cog in our plan this year, as they both have potential to post big scores,” said Burns.
Zack Chase, Matt Frey, Nate Fortunato, Adam Kern, co-captain Justin (Yoshi) Morinishi, and John Scallon will all be counted on heavily to propel the Gophers to new heights. Junior Steffen Beck suffered a season ending injury this fall and will redshirt this season.
“Zack was the Big Ten runner up on vault last year after winning the title as a freshman,” said Burns. “He’ll be looking to move back up on the top of the podium this year.”
The sophomore class gained valuable experience last year and now have a much better understanding of the ins and outs of college gymnastics. That experience should help them as the season progresses.
“It’s a bit different than when they were in club gymnastics as high school seniors,” said Burns. “The team factor in college gymnastics is a huge component that many gymnasts first experience when they get to college. It’s all about the team here.”
Co-captain Steve Jaciuk leads the sophomore class and has potential to really make a name for himself this year.
“Steve made the Big Ten finals on high bar last year and that experience will serve him well as a team leader this year,” said Burns. “Along with his fellow sophomores Sean Bauer, Donnie Carper, Ellis Mannon, Jack Metcalf, and Spencer Smith, Steve should be surrounded with a great supporting cast.”
The Gopher freshman class will be relied on early and often and should be ready to provide some valuable scoring potential. Michael Farquhar, Danny DiBenedetto, Paul Montague, and Minnesota native Nick Olson could see action right from the start of the season.
“These guys are ready to hit the ground running and will get a chance to be a part of a team effort right out of the gates,” said Burns.
New Meet Format
The biggest change in college gymnastics this season will be the new scoring system. In the past, six gymnasts competed at each event, with the top four scores counting toward a team's total. This season, five scores will count, and beginning in March, only five gymnasts will compete for each team. The new format will put a greater importance on consistency, without the benefit of the lowest score being dropped.
“This will be a huge change for the way college gymnastics meets will run this year,” said Burns. “Going from the six up, four count to the five up, five count format at the end of the season will put a premium on hitting sets and staying consistent. In the past with the need to push higher difficulty to stay competitive there were many more missed routines, especially early in the year. With the ability to throw out two scores on each event the risks could be taken without too much of a hit to our team score. Now we will need to focus on solid hit routines that may need to have a slightly lower level of difficulty but a higher importance on performance.”
A higher level of consistent performance could prove to be a recipe to go back to more elegant gymnastics routines. This new format will also make it easier for fans to understand the meet scoring with every score counting.
“I think we will eventually see a higher hit percentage throughout college gymnastics, which in the long run will be a better product on the floor,” said Burns. “It will be easier to follow the scoring when every routine counts.”
Big Ten Championships Hosted By Minnesota
One of the highlights of the 2013 schedule will take place April 5-6 when Minnesota hosts the Big Ten Championships at the Sports Pavilion.
“Hosting the Big Ten Championships is an honor, and we are looking forward to having this meet at home,” said Burns. “Not having to travel for the Big Ten’s is a big advantage and our guys will be ready to battle with some of the top teams in the nation.”
Seven Big Ten teams were ranked in the top 10 in the nation in the pre-season poll.
“The competition in the Big Ten conference is amazing,” said Burns. “We will face some of the top teams in the country and will need to be ready.”
No. 5 Minnesota Travels to No. 6 Nebraska
The Golden Gophers will travel to Lincoln, Neb. this Saturday, March 25 for the second meeting against No. 6 Nebraska this season.
Wiskus Wins All-Around for Team USA
Incoming freshman Shane Wiskus earned gold in the senior all-around competition at the University of Calgary International Cup this past Friday.
Gophers Sweep Podium in Home Finale
Minnesota topped UIC with a final score of 413.500-372.700 on Saturday afternoon at the Sports Pavilion. The win marked an undefeated season at home for the Golden Gophers this season.