Minnesota outscored Calgary on four of six events, but dominant performances by the Dinosaurs on pommel horse and still rings proved to be the difference as the Golden Gophers dropped their 2008 home opener, 342.800-341.800, Saturday afternoon at the Sports Pavilion.
“I thought we took some big steps forward in some areas, but we also took some baby steps back as well,” said Head Coach Mike Burns. “We started off really strong on floor and had a great showing in vault. The pommel horse was really our Achilles heel today, which is uncharacteristic for us. This competition had kind of a friendly feel to it with our neighbors from the North. Maybe it was too friendly because I think we lost some focus at times.”
One Gopher that appeared to be focused like a laser beam was Cole Storer. The sophomore posted top-3 finishes on floor exercise and vault and won the high bar competition and helped Minnesota (3-5) recorded season-high team scores on all three events.
“Cole was on fire and really had a great day,” Burns said. “His floor, vault and high bar were all great. He added a new skill on high bar and I thought really handled it well.”
Senior Mitchell Mays, who placed second on vault and third on parallel bars, and sophomore Colin McGuire, who placed third on both the floor exercise and the high bar also had strong meets for Minnesota, as did sophomore Aaron Fortunato, who shined on pommel horse and totaled a season-high 85.100 points in the all-around competition.
“Aaron had a great all-around performance,” said Burns. “He was outstanding on pommel horse, but unfortunately because of where he was in our lineup we weren’t able to count his score.”
Fortunato’s second-place score of 14.250 was 1.750 points higher than the Gophers’ fourth counting score on the apparatus and likely was the difference in the meet.
The performance by the Dino’s top competitors, many of whom possess Canadian National Team experience, and by former Gopher All-American Jake Lee, who competed for Calgary to help give it enough participants on each event, were also key.
Current Canadian all-around champion Nathan Gafuik won the all-around competition with 89.100 points and captured event wins on floor, pommel horse and vault. Lee, meanwhile, won the parallel bars and placed second on rings.
The Minnesota men’s gymnastics team returns to action on Saturday, Feb. 2, when the Gophers travel to State College, Penn., to take on defending NCAA Champion Penn State at 1 p.m. (CST). The meet will be televised by the Big Ten Network on a tape-delay basis and is scheduled to air on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 4:00 p.m. (CST).
Men’s College Gymnastics
Calgary at No. 7 Minnesota
University of Minnesota Sports Pavilion, Minneapolis, Minn.
Jan. 26, 2008
FINAL TEAM SCORES
1. Calgary, 342.800; 2. Minnesota, 341.800.
FLOOR EXERCISE (Calgary, 57.300; Minnesota, 58.400)
1) Nathan Gafuik (Calgary) 15.500; 2) Cole Storer (MINN) 15.050; 3) Colin McGuire (MINN) 14.500, Eddie Campbell (MINN) 14.500.
POMMEL HORSE (Calgary, 54.150; Minnesota, 52.200)
1) Nathan Gafuik (Calgary) 14.300; 2) Aaron Fortunato (MINN) 14.250; 3) Sergei Dmitriev (MINN) 13.750; Grant Golding (Calgary) 13.750.
STILL RINGS (Calgary, 58.200; Minnesota, 55.850)
1) Grant Golding (Calgary) 14.700; 2) Jake Lee (Calgary) 14.550; 3) Nathan Gafuik (Calgary) 14.500.
VAULT (Calgary, 62.500; Minnesota, 63.000)
1) Nathan Gafuik (Calgary) 16.100; 2) Mitchell Mays (MINN) 15.900; 3) Cole Storer (MINN) 15.850.
PARALLEL BARS (Calgary, 55.150; Minnesota, 55.250)
1) Jake Lee (Calgary) 14.750; 2) Eddie Campbell (MINN) 13.950; Mitchell Mays (MINN) 13.950.
HIGH BAR (Calgary, 55.950; Minnesota, 57.500)
1) Cole Storer (MINN) 15.000; 2) Nathan Gafuik (Calgary) 14.800; 3) Colin McGuire (MINN) 14.600.
1) Nathan Gafuik (Calgary) 89.100; 2) Aaron Fortunato (MINN) 85.100; 3) Patrick McElroy (Calgary) 80.800.