Feb. 15, 2013
The sixth-ranked Minnesota men's gymnastics team heads to Norman, Okla., this week for a showdown with the No. 2 Sooners.
Minnesota should be at full strength this week as well. Last week at Iowa, the flu-stricken Gophers had to fill 10 spots in their lineup as Ellis Mannon, Zack Chase and Daniel DiBenedetto were all competing in the Winter Cup in Las Vegas. That being the said, the Gophers will need to be at their best to topple the powerful Sooners.
"We need to focus on getting our guys healthy this week and getting back into shape because we did have a little bit of downtime last weekend because of illness," said coach Mike Burns. "Hopefully we can get back on track and have a good competition.
"We are going to have to put our best lineup on the floor to have a chance against Oklahoma. They are ranked No. 2 in the nation and area always a tough program to compete against and beat. It will be even tougher at their place."
Although Mannon, Chase and DiBenedetto are back with the team, there are still some decisions that need to be made before the tumbling begins against the Sooners. Burns said he was impressed by a few gymnasts at Iowa last weekend and that could make filling out his lineup card a little more difficult this week.
"I think there was some stepping up at Iowa," said Burns. "I thought Matt Frey did a really nice job, especially on the floor and vault. He had a little bit of trouble on the parallel bars but he handled it pretty well and fought through to the end. Yoshi did a nice job for us. He got into the vault lineup and almost stuck his vault. He hit pommel horse and hit high bar with a stick and hit on floor, so he really came through for us. Steve Jaciuk also did a nice job on his three events. It was also nice to see John Scallon back in the lineup and hit the pommel horse routine. Harris did a nice job for us on pommel horse. I thought he should have won, but ended up second."
DiBenedetto did the best among the Gophers at the Winter Cup advancing to the second day of competition.
"It was nice to see Danny get through and did a good job for us," said Burns. "We had some representation on the second day at the Winter Cup and that is always a good thing. He did comment about how the energy level is a little bit different. You have to work on getting yourself up a bit more because the team is not there to help you. Even though the sport is individualistic it is still very team orientated, especially at the college level. I know he is looking forward to getting back to competing as a team this week."
The Gophers complete their three-meet road trip at UIC next weekend. Minnesota faces the Flames at 7 p.m. on March 2 in the Sports Pavilion.