Gophers' Home-Opener to Feature OU, UIC
Jan. 21, 2014
By Ben Gotz, Athletic Communications Student Assistant
MINNEAPOLIS – After opening up their regular season last weekend by placing fourth at the Windy City Invitational, the No. 7 Gopher men's gymnastics team return home this weekend to host Oklahoma and the University of Illinois-Chicago. The meet begins at 1 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion.
Windy City Invitational Recap
The Gophers opened up their regular season with the Windy City Invitational last weekend, where UIC hosted five Big Ten teams to compete in Chicago. The Gophers finished fourth in the meet with a score of 424.800. Minnesota finished ahead of Iowa (417.700) and UIC (395.500), but behind Michigan (437.500), Ohio State (436.050) and Illinois (436.050).
The highlight of the meet for the Gophers was the performance of junior Ellis Mannon, who took first overall in the all-around with a score of 87.050. Mannon did not record a score below 14.000 in any event and took second on pommel horse with a 15.95. – the third-highest NCAA men's gymnastics pommel horse score of all time.
Gophers vs. Flames and Sooners
The Gophers know their opponents well, as during the 2013 season the Gophers faced both Oklahoma and UIC. In fact, the Gophers ran into UIC three times during the 2013 regular season. The Gophers lost to Oklahoma on the road 443.350-435.450 in their lone match-up of last season, despite scoring a season-high point total. Oklahoma, who was ranked second nationally at the time, managed to prevail even though the Gophers registered season-high scores in five out of six events. Several Gophers had big nights in the near loss, including Steve Jaciuk, who topped the 15-point mark in three different events.
The Gophers squared off against UIC three times last season, at the Windy City Invitational, at the Gophers' Sports Pavilion with Nebraska, and at an away dual meet in Chicago. The Gophers out-scored UIC in all three meetings, winning the three-team meet with Nebraska and defeating UIC on the road.
Oklahoma started their regular season a week earlier than Minnesota and UIC, winning the Rocky Mountain Open with a score of 443.150. Last week, Oklahoma hosted Air Force (who the Gophers will face Saturday, Feb. 8) and defeated the Falcons, 440.700 to 412.200.
Like the Gophers, UIC began the regular season at the Windy City Invitational last weekend. UIC finished sixth at the six-team meet with a score of 395.500.
Gophers in the National Rankings
The Gophers are currently ranked No. 7 in the national rankings with a team average of 424.800. Minnesota ranks third on vault (73.800), sixth on both pommel horse (70.000) and parallel bars (71.950), ninth on high bar (68.650) and 11th on both floor (69.650) and still rings (70.750). The Gophers climbed one place from ninth to eighth in this week's coaches poll.
After his winning performance in the all-around last weekend, junior Ellis Mannon is now ranked fifth nationally in the all-around (87.050). Mannon also ranks second nationally on pommel horse (15.950), while senior Steffen Beck is tied for ninth (14.650).
The Gophers' opponent this weekend, Oklahoma, is ranked No. 1 in the national rankings and in the coaches poll. UIC is unranked in both polls but received votes in the coaches poll.
Following Saturday’s competition, the Gophers remain at home as they prepare to host No. 8 Illinois and No. 9 Nebraska next Friday, Feb. 1, at the Sports Pavilion. The meet is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Illinois tied for second place with Ohio State at the Windy City Invitational last weekend, and the Illini host the Buckeyes this weekend. Meanwhile, Nebraska is hosting Air Force this weekend before traveling to Minnesota.