The seventh-ranked University of Minnesota men’s gymnastics team hosted the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation Saturday at the Sports Pavilion. Oklahoma, which entered the meet ranked No. 2 upset No. 1 Stanford, while Minnesota finished the meet in third.
The Sooners scored a total of 357.850 points, defeating Stanford by more than a full point. The Cardinal tallied 356.400. The Gophers put up a tally of 347.950.
“We had some tough competition, but it was good to be up against them,” Minnesota head coach Mike Burns said. “That’s the kind of competition we’re going to see here at the NCAAs. We’ve got to stick with them a little tougher. I think we gave a few things away tonight. But we’ve got a great team here. They’re working hard and we’re going to make it happen.”
Minnesota started the meet strong. The Gophers turned in their best score of the season on the floor exercise, breaking the 60-point plateau for the first time this season. Cole Storer led the way with a 15.150, while Andre Berry was right on his heels at 15.100. After one rotation, Minnesota led the meet.
But the Gophers struggled a bit in the next two rotations. Minnesota scored a 54.500 on the pommel horse and a 56.450 on the rings. Both scores were the lowest scores posted by the Gophers in more than a month. By the third rotation, Oklahoma held a commanding 177.400-175.400 lead over Stanford, while Minnesota had tallied 171.150 points.
The Gophers came back strong on the vault. Their team score of 62.850 was a season-high mark. Storer led the way with a 16.100, the first time a Minnesota athlete broke the 16-point mark on the vault this season. Adam Reichow (15.750) and Colin McGuire (15.650) also turned in strong performances on the apparatus.
The Gophers continued to perform well moving to the parallel bars and the fifth rotation. Minnesota tied its season-high score on the bars, scoring a 58.400. The Gophers topped Oklahoma in the parallel bars, earning praise from Coach Burns. Russell Dabritz paced Minnesota with a 15.100.
“I was really impressed with our guys on the p-bars,” Burns said. “I’m really pleased with these guys. I’m just really grateful to be able to work with a bunch of guys like this. We’ll have better days ahead.”
The Gophers had a shot at breaking past the 350-point plateau with a strong showing on the high bar. But they struggled on the event, tallying their second-lowest score of the season (55.550) on the high bar.
“We had a great start on the floor,” Burns said. “We ran into a little trouble on the pommels. But we got back on track. I thought we had a chance to take it over the 350 barrier, then we struggled a bit on the high bar.”
Minnesota is back in action again next Sunday. The Gophers will travel to Lincoln, Neb. to face Nebraska and Arizona State.