The University of Minnesota men's gymnastics squad trailed Penn State by nearly a full point heading into the final rotation of Saturday night's dual meet at the Sports Pavilion. But the Gophers came through on the high bar, easily pulling away to take a 345.850-344.500 victory over the Nittany Lions.
"It wasn't the prettiest win, but it was a win," Minnesota head coach Mike Burns said after the meet. "Any time you get a win, you've got to be happy. Penn State is a very solid, highly-ranked team. We just told our guys they're going to come in here and try to steal something from you and you better not let them take it home. Our kids did the job. They were good enough to take the win and that's good enough for us."
It was a tight contest through the first four rotations. Heading into the final two events, Minnesota trailed by just .100 (232.100-232.000). The Gophers put up a solid score on the parallel bars in rotation five, while Penn State recorded a good high bar rotation. That left the Nittany Lions with a lead of more than a full point. But Penn State struggled a bit on the parallel bars in the final rotation, while Minnesota started hot on the high bar and rode that hot start to the victory.
"Rings and vault were good and we did a nice job on the p-bars," Burns said. "Then, we put the final nail in the coffin on the high bar -- our high bar against their p-bars. (Penn State) kind of buckled under the pressure we put on them. Our first two guys -- Ali Aleiou and Cole Storer -- just knocked out great routines. They stuck their dismounts and that just got the crowd so into it and also got our team really charged up. From there, the rest was like 'Let's just finish up and go home with a win."
The difference in the meet came on the parallel bars. Minnesota outscored Penn State by nearly two full points (56.650-54.800) on the apparatus.
Penn State took top individual honors in five of the six events. Freshman Russell Dabritz was Minnesota's only event-winner, tying for the parallel bars with a score of 14.350. But the Gophers depth came through for them.
Penn State's Casey Sandy won or tied for first place in five different events (floor exercise, pommel horse, vault, parallel bars and high bar). Sandy easily won the all-around with a score of 89.050. The Nittany Lions' Noam Shaham was second in the all-around (84.850), while DJ Repp scored an 81.900 for Minnesota.