No. 7 Gophers Head to National Championships
April 8, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS – The No. 7 Golden Gopher men's gymnastics team is one of 12 teams set to compete at the 2014 National Collegiate Men’s Gymnastics National Championships in Ann Arbor, Mich., this weekend. Two national qualifying sessions are scheduled for Thursday, with the Gophers competing in the second session at 6 p.m. CT.
Joining the Gophers in Session II are No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 6 Penn State, No. 10 Air Force and No. 11 Nebraska. Minnesota has faced all of these opponents earlier this season.
Three teams and the top three all-around competitors not on one of the qualifying teams, plus the top three individuals on each event not already qualified on a team or as an all-around competitor, will advance from each qualifying session to the finals session. The finals will take place Friday and Saturday.
All four sessions of the National Collegiate Men's Gymnastics National Championships, including both qualifying sessions, Friday's team and all-around finals, and Saturday's individual finals, will be streamed live at NCAA.com. The Big Ten Network will broadcast Friday’s finals session as well.
2013 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS REWIND
The Gophers finished fourth in their national qualifying session last year, finishing one place short of advancing to the team finals. The Gophers scored 424.700 in the qualifying round, behind 2013 NCAA champion Michigan (443.850), Oklahoma (433.850) and Illinois (426.900).
Ellis Mannon advanced to individual finals on pommel horse after winning the event in the Gophers' session of the qualifying round. Mannon finished second in the event during team finals with a score of 14.900 and was named an All-American.
LAST TIME OUT: MANNON WINS B1G POMMEL HORSE TITLE
The Gophers finished fifth at the 2014 Big Ten Championships with a team score of 429.150. Minnesota had four individuals advance to the individual event finals: junior Ellis Mannon on pommel horse, sophomore Jack Metcalf on still rings, senior Zack Chase on vault and junior Steve Jaciuk on high bar and parallel bars.
Mannon finished as the Big Ten vault champion, winning top honors with a score of 15.325 after finishing as the B1G runner-up the previous year. Chase, a former Big Ten vault champion, tied for third after posting a score of 15.250. Metcalf tied his season-high score on still rings with a 15.200 on his way to tying for fifth place. Jaciuk finished seventh on high bar with a score of 14.700 and fifth on the parallel bars with a season-high score of 15.175.
GOPHERS VS. NCAA FOES IN 2014
The Gophers are familiar with all of their opponents in their session for the qualifying round, as they have faced all of them multiple times during the 2014 regular season.
The Gophers most recently went head-to-head with Big Ten foes Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Nebraska at the Big Ten championships. Minnesota finished fifth in the B1G team standings, edging out sixth-place Nebraska 429.150 to 428.150. Michigan won the team title with 448.200 points, followed by Ohio State (441.050) and Penn State (438.000) to round out the top three teams.
The Gophers also saw Michigan and Ohio State at the season-opening Windy City Invitational. Minnesota has faced Nebraska three times this season, defeating the Huskers in each meeting. The Gophers fell to Penn State on the road, 440.200 to 431.500.
Minnesota faced Air Force twice this season, traveling to the AFA in early February and winning 434.200 to 431.550. The teams also meet in a five-team meet at Nebraska where the Gophers finished third (432.000) and Air Force finished fifth (422.000).
GOPHERS IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
After the Big Ten Championships, the Gophers landed at No. 7 in both the national rankings and the coaches poll with a national qualifying average of 432.638. The Gophers are the fourth-ranked team in their national qualifying session, behind Michigan (444.463), Ohio State (441.888) and Penn State (433.725) but ahead of Air Force (427.900) and Nebraska (424.663).
In team events, the Gophers are ranked fifth on floor exercise (73.438), sixth on vault (73.588) and parallel bars (72.500), eighth on still rings (73.250), ninth on pommel horse (70.075), and 11th on high bar (70.775).
In the top-20 individual rankings, senior Zack Chase is the highest-ranked Gopher in third on vault (15.175).
Senior Matt Frey joins Jaciuk in the top-10 on parallel bars with a 14.975 national qualifying average that is good for ninth. Sophomore Jack Metcalf leads the Gophers on still rings, where he is ranked 17th (15.012).
THIRTEEN GOPHERS NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-BIG TEN HONOREES
Thirteen Gophers made the grade as the Big Ten Conference announced its 2014 Academic All-Big Ten selections. Senior Nathan Fortunato received special recognition, as he is one of only nine B1G winter-sport student athletes that maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA.
The Gophers' 2014 Academic All-Big Ten honorees are Sean Bauer, Steffen Beck, Zack Chase, Danny DiBenedetto, Nathan Fortunato, Steve Jaciuk, Adam Kern, Ellis Mannon, Jack Metcalf, Justin Morinishi, John Scallon, Spencer Smith and Sam Wright. This year's honor marks the third Academic All-Big Ten award for Fortunato, Kern, Morinishi and Scallon. Beck, Chase, Jaciuk and Smith all received their second award. Wright also earned his second Academic All-Big Ten award of his career as he was also honored as a student-athlete at Iowa.
CHASE NAMED NISSEN-EMERY AWARD FINALIST
Senior Zack Chase was named one of the nine finalists for the prestigious 2014 Nissen-Emery Award, given annually to the nation's outstanding senior gymnast. Three Gophers have received the award since 1966 including Tim LaFleur (1978), John Roethlisberger (1993) and most recently, Guillermo Alvarez (2005).