Gophers to Host Big Ten Rivals
Jan. 29, 2014
By Ben Gotz, Athletic Communications Student Assistant
MINNEAPOLIS – The No. 7 Gophers will compete at home for the second-straight meet as they welcome Big Ten Conference rivals No. 8 Illinois and No. 9 Nebraska to Minneapolis this weekend. The meet begins at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion.
Last Time Out
The Gophers faced the top team in the country last weekend, welcoming No. 1 Oklahoma to the Sports Pavilion. Despite four individual first-place finishes, the Gophers came up short against the Sooners by a score of 431.900 to 427.650. The Gophers posted the top score in four events with from big performances by gymnasts Ellis Mannon (pommel horse, 14.950), Sean Bauer (still rings, 15.100), Paul Montague Jr. (parallel bars, 14.800) and Zach Chase (vault, 15.200).
The meet’s Louis J. Cooke award for top performer went to Sean Bauer, who in addition to his big score on still rings, tied for third in the floor exercise (14.900) and scored a 14.500 on vault. The Gophers improved their overall score for the second week in a row as well.
Gophers vs. Huskers and Illini
The Gophers have already run into the fighting Illini this year, as they competed against Illinois at the Windy City Invitational. While the Gophers finished fourth with a score of 424.800, Illinois tied with Ohio State for second place with a score of 436.050. At the Windy City Invitational, the Illini were the best team on the floor exercise, with a team score of 72.800.
Minnesota has yet to face Nebraska this year as the team was not at the Windy City Invitational, but the teams met twice last year outside of the Big Ten Championships. The Gophers took first place in both meets against Nebraska last year, with scores of 431.200 and 430.300.
Nebraska has competed in two meets so far this season, a larger meet against Air Force, Arizona State, and Oklahoma, and a dual meet at home against Air Force. Nebraska scored 423.700 points in the first meet, which they lost to Oklahoma, but then defeated Air Force the following week by a score of 420.650 to 415.300.
Illinois has competed three times so far this year, including once against the Gophers at the Windy City Invitational. At their first meet at UIC, the Illini scored 413.100 points in a victory, and then last week they defeated Ohio State at home by a score of 428.450 to 425.450.
Gophers in the National Rankings
After their meet against Oklahoma, the Gophers have not budged in their national ranking but moved up an additional place in the coaches poll for the second week in a row. The Gophers are now seventh in both rankings. In the event rankings, the Gophers rank fourth on parallel bars (72.000) fifth on vault (73.225), sixth on floor exercise (71.550), eighth in still rings (72.100) and high bar (68.625), and 11th on pommel horse (68.725).
Junior Ellis Mannon is still ranked second nationally on the pommel horse (15.450), while teammate senior Steffen Beck (14.650) has moved down a spot to 10th in the event. Mannon also held on to his fifth place ranking in the all-around (87.050).
Senior Zach Chase is now ranked second in vault (15.200) after competing for the first time this past weekend, while teammate and fellow senior Matt Frey (14.900) is ranked ninth. Junior captain Steve Jaciuk ranks 10th in the parallel bars (14.775).
The Gophers' two opponents this weekend are ranked just below them nationally, with Illinois ranked eighth and Nebraska ninth. In the coaches poll, however, Illinois is fourth and Nebraska is ranked 10th.
After facing two Big Ten opponents, the Gophers hit the road for the first time in two weeks to take on No. 11 Air Force. The meet will begin at 5 p.m. CT at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.