The University of Minnesota men’s gymnastics team won over its fans tonight at the 2007 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Championships Event Finals at the Sports Pavilion. Sophomore Kit Beikmann, senior Jake Lee and freshman Andre Berry earned All-Big Ten honors, while Mike Burns was named the Big Ten Co-Coach of the Year with Ohio State’s Miles Avery and freshman Andre Berry was honored as Big Freshman of the Year.
Beikmann won the conference pommel horse title with a score of 9.125. By winning the event he became an instant All-Big Ten choice as All-Conference selections are determined by individual event winners and the top six places from Friday’s all-around. Beikmann joined Lee and Berry who earned All-Conference status by placing third and fifth in Friday’s all-around, respectively.
Junior Mitchell Mays was one place away from earning All-Big Ten honors as he finished second on vault with a mark of 9.375. Other Gophers in the event finals included Lee, who took fourth on the high bar with a 9.125. Freshman Cole Storer was right behind Lee, taking fifth in the same event with a 9.000. Storer also took eighth on vault with an 8.575 and eighth on floor with a 9.125. Freshman Adam Reichow took fifth on the floor exercise with a 9.500, while Berry was seventh on the floor with a 9.300. Junior Steve Vuong was sixth on pommel horse with an 8.125, while junior Sergei Dmitriev placed eighth on parallel bars with a 7.825
“This was so exciting that I can barely put it into words,” said Burns. “I couldn’t have written a script and made anyone believe that this weekend would work out this well for us. I am just so happy for our guys to come out and perform like they did last night in earning third place in the team competition. Then to have Kit win the pommel horse with the best routine of his life and Mitchell stick his double Tsuk vault and almost win the title – it has been a tremendous 24-hour span for Gopher gymnastics. I am also very honored to join Miles as the Big Ten Coach of the Year.”
Burns was also ecstatic for Beikmann, who came to the Gopher gymnastics program as a walk-on and now has an individual Conference title to his name.
“Kit is the type of kid that works hard and always wants to do more,” said Burns. “For him to come to our program as a walk on and now become a Big Ten champion is a testament to his desire to be great.”
2007 ALL-BIG TEN MEN’S GYMNASTICS TEAM
Kit Beikmann - Minnesota
Andre Berry - Minnesota
Jacques Bouchard - Iowa
D.J. Bucher - Ohio State
Wes Haagensen - Illinois
Eddie Hay - Ohio State
Derek Helsby - Penn State
Jake Lee - Minnesota
Tai Lee - Ohio State
Aaron Rakes - Michigan
Casey Sandy - Penn State
Tyler Yamauchi - Illinois
Big Ten Coach of the Year: Miles Avery (OSU) / Mike Burns (Minnesota)
Big Ten Gymnast of the Year: Wes Haagensen (Illinois)
Big Ten Freshman of the Year: Andre Berry (Minnesota)
POST CHAMPIONSHIP QUOTES
Gopher Head Coach Mike Burns
MB: Overall, it was a pretty exciting day for us. To have this sort of success against this kind of competition and with our guys performing the way they did, how could you not feel pretty good right now.
How about having your home fans?
MB: We have created an environment here that we feed off the crowd and that is what we want to continue to build off. It is continual movement where when our guys do well then the crowd gets into it and then we feed off of that and get excited and it pumps the guys up. It is a great recipe for success. Our guys worked really, really hard for this meet so to have the opportunity in a Big Ten Championship to perform in front of your fans is so special. Like I said, getting the crowd into it is something I have tried to bring to Minnesota and I think we have a pretty good handle on it right now.
Do you think Mitchell fed off Kit’s first place finish on pommel horse and applied it to his vault?
MB: I think that the type of performance that Kit had is infectious. Kit was on fire tonight. That was the best routine of his life and to do it at the most important time of his life is unbelievable. Mitchell fed off that energy and had the best vault of his life. If you were looking for peak performances, you just saw some of them here tonight.
What is it like to watch the emotion from your guys as the head coach?
MB: When Mitchell hit his vault it was just pandemonium. It was like ‘how could anybody beat that.’ It was a perfect situation and then Tyler (Yamauchi) from Illinois does just as good of a vault and he was just a little bit better because he knocked Mitchell off the top and that was like a history-making vault that Mitchell performed. To see that kind of performance, you are disappointed that Mitchell finished second, but honestly, I was just happy for the sports of gymnastics because it was an incredible thing and to be able to see it live was an incredible thing and I loved it.
How are you looking going into NCAAs?
MB: I think a meet like this does nothing but instill confidence in our whole squad as we look forward and try to take it to an even higher level at NCAAs. And that is where this program is going – the next level.
Gopher Junior Mitchell Mays
Was that the best you can perform that vault or the best that you have performed it so far?
MM: That is the best I have ever hit that vault whether it has been in a meet or in the workouts.
Did you feel dialed in?
MM: I felt good and really didn’t feel pressure. Tonight it was just about me going out and doing what I do.
How did you decide to do this vault. As I understand it is extremely difficult.
MM: I started to learn it during JO’s and then my sophomore year here I decided that I was going to change a few things and do this vault. I had the confidence in myself that I could do it.
Where you shocked that you finished second after a vault like that?
MM: No, actually Tyler is one of my good friends from back in Texas. I knew that he and one of the guys from Ohio State were going to be in the hunt. It wasn’t too much of a shock, but if someone was going to get me, I am glad that he did it.
How does this meet set you up for NCAAs?
MM: I don’t think it will be easy and we have to get back at it and not get big heads. We still have work to do. Big Tens were great but we have NCAAs in front of us now.
How has this weekend been for you and your teammates?
MM: It has been great. You start low and continue to work your way up. Even through this meet despite the fact that we are pleased with how we did, there are still
little things that you can work on here and there. I think this meet we take and build off of.
Gopher Sophomore Kit Beikmann
How did it feel to win pommel horse in your home gym?
KB: I was a great feeling because I think we have one of the best crowds in the nation. They get into it in so many ways – they dress up, they wear face paint, they scream and get loud, they get rowdy, almost obnoxious, but we feed off of it and it takes us to a higher level. It is a huge confidence builder for us to do as well as we did this weekend.
Were you confident coming into today?
KB: I was fairly confident. Yesterday was a little more unnerving because I sat around for almost three hours. The team competition is more stressful whereas today I was confident.
How was your confidence when you landed because I think I saw you smiling before you even hit the floor.
KB: As soon as I put my left hand up for my dismount I knew that I wasn’t going to mess up at that point. Gymnastics is a sport where until your feet hit the ground you have to stay locked in because you can’t get too overconfident or that is when you make mistakes. It was such a great feeling to put my last hand down and know that I was done.
Yesterday Casey Sandy of Penn State blew everyone away and today you walked away with the title. Did you think that was possible?
KB: It was a little bit of a surprise because Casey is either ranked number one or number two in the country and he scored a 9.45 yesterday and I had a 9.00. Today I was hoping to have a good showing and I was shooting for second place, but after watching Casey slip I knew there was a chance it could happen today and it worked out in my favor. I know that he will be ready the next time though.
How does this help for NCAAs?
KB: Huge confidence boost and it was exciting because I have never won a title before and I really don’t know what to say.
How about winning in front of the home crowd?
KB: The fact that my friends and family where here and my team it made it amazing and a feeling I will never forget. I will be smiling for weeks.