Seniors Go Out With Big Victory Minnesota set a team record with a 353.900 score, defeating Iowa and UIC Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion.
The University of Minnesota men's gymnastics team sent its seniors out with a bang Saturday night. In the Gophers' final home meet of the season and the final appearance at the Sports Pavilion for six seniors, Minnesota recorded a team-record score of 353.900, easily defeating Iowa and Illinois-Chicago.
"There was a lot of emotion tonight, it was Senior Night," head coach Mike Burns said. "It was the last home meet. They all stepped up and they had a great, great finish. Going into the last event, we were down by about three-tenths and we ended up winning by like (seven) points. They had to dig down. We had a little problem early on, but they never gave up. The guys kept on fighting and they just performed the best I've seen them in their whole career. What a great way to finish their home careers here at the Pavilion. I'm just real proud of them."
Senior Aaron Fortunato won the parallel bars and the high bar and also took the all-around title. He and his classmates were thrilled with their final home meet.
"It feels awesome," Fortunato said of the team's performance. "We started our upward climb last weekend and we just kept it going. We still have plenty of room to improve, so it's really exciting. There is really a fire inside of us. It's a bittersweet night. I was happy to not let the emotion get to me and go out with a great meet."
The Gophers opened on the pommel horse with a 56.850 score, which was their best tally on the event so far this season. Minnesota freshman Harris Coleman paced the Gophers with a 14.900, while Andre Berry was third at 14.200.
But the Gophers stumbled a bit on the still rings. Minnesota posted its lowest score in two months, with a score of 56.850 on the apparatus. But from there, the Gophers started pouring it on.
Minnesota moved to the vault, where they threw up a score of 63.500, which was a season-high mark. Adam Reichow tied with Iowa's Jonathan Buese for the top spot individually on the vault with a personal-best 16.050 score. Colin McGuire also turned in a personal high with a 15.950 to take third.
Minnesota maintained its momentum on the parallel bars. Michael Paulus' personal-best score of 14.600 was tied with Aaron Fortunato for the top spot in the on the bars. The Gophers' score of 57.850 was second only to last week's score this season.
Fortunato had a personal best on the high bar with a 15.050 and won the event, while he and his teammates took four of the top five spots. Their total of 58.250 on the high bar was far and away the best score of the season for the Gophers.
But Minnesota was still trailing Iowa in the overall score as the meet headed into the sixth and final rotation. Fortunately, Minnesota was on the floor exercise to finish the meet, while Iowa was on the parallel bars. The Gophers scored another season-high mark on the floor, recording a 61.600 to easily out-distance the Hawkeyes and Flames.
Minnesota swept the top three spots on the floor. McGuire and Adam Reichow each tallied 15.550 scores, while Andre Berry came in third with a 15.450.
The Gophers are back in action again next Saturday in their final regular-season home meet. Minnesota will travel to Lincoln, Neb. for a date with Nebraska and Iowa at the Devaney Sports Center.