The University of Minnesota men’s gymnastics team opened the 2007 season by defeating Illinois tonight at the Sports Pavilion by a score of 207.150-204.750.
The Gophers came out of the blocks fast as they built a 68.30-66.70 lead over Illinois after the first two rotations of floor exercise and pommel horse. While Illinois had a 36.30-35.85 edge over the Gophers on floor, Minnesota held a larger advantage over Illinois on pommel horse, outscoring the visitors 32.45-30.40.
Sophomore Kit Beikmann won the pommel horse with an 8.65, while senior Jake Lee took second with an 8.40. Juniors Steve Vuong and Sergei Dmitriev tied for fourth on the event with a 7.70. On floor exercise, freshmen Adam Reichow and Andre Berry finished second and fourth, respectively, to pace the Gophers.
The Gophers held the lead through the third and fourth rotations on rings and vault. Minnesota led 137.200-135.900 as Illinois had a higher score on rings (36.15-34.90), but the Gophers had a higher total on vault (34.00-33.10). Illinois had the top two individual scores on rings, while Jake Lee gave the Gophers their top score in that event with an 8.80. Minnesota would capture the top two scores on vault as freshman Cole Storer took the individual title with an 8.950, while Reichow was second with an 8.70
The Maroon and Gold didn’t have any trouble closing out Illinois despite Illinois having a higher score on parallel bars (35.25-34.90). The Gophers countered by outscoring Illinois 35.05-33.55 on high bar to ensure the victory.
The Gophers not only had the top two individual performers on parallel bars, but they had the top three performers on high bar. Dmitriev posted an 8.95 to win the parallel bars while Kyle True followed up with an 8.90 to take second in that event. Dmitriev also won the high bar with a 9.25, while freshman Aaron Fortunato took second and Vuong took third.
Gopher head coach Mike Burns was ecstatic with how his young gymnasts performed and how the team stayed focused on the moment.
“We had a very strong opening, starting on floor exercise. It was a tremendous improvement from last week and signaled the beginning of the end for Illinois,” said Burns. “Our guys kept that momentum rolling and didn’t worry about any of the setbacks that we had along the way. The most impressive thing for us was that Jake Lee only competed in three events, yet the other guys stepped up and made it happen. We had 13 “sticks” on our dismounts tonight compared to four a week ago. That is really a strong indication of what kind of talent we have. We knew this recruiting class was special and mixed with the solid veterans we already have it is quite a recipe for success.”
The Gophers will host their next meet at the St. Paul RiverCentre against William & Mary next Saturday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 p.m.