The No. 6 Gopher men’s gymnastics team will travel to University Park, Pa., for the 2007 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships. The national qualifier, which consists of two pre-qualifying sessions, will begin April 12 at Recreation Hall on the campus of Pennsylvania State University.
The Gophers, who finished third at the 2007 Big Ten Championships, had the sixth-highest qualifying score of the 12 teams to earn an invite with a mark of 213.860. Minnesota will compete in the second session, which begins at 7 p.m. this Thursday. The Gophers will join Oklahoma, Penn State, Cal, Temple and Nebraska in the second session.
The first session will open the NCAA Championships on Thursday at 1 p.m. and will consist of Ohio State, Stanford, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Army.
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 pre-qualifying session to the finals session. Final competitions will take place April 13-14, also at Penn State.
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The Gophers are ranked No. 6 in the final edition of the GymInfo National Rankings. The Gophers are also listed among the top 10 in every event, with their highest ranking coming in the vault, where the team is ranked fourth.
Tough Race for the NCAA Title
All six men’s gymnastics teams from the Big Ten are ranked among the nation’s top nine in the final poll. Ohio State is the top ranked team in the Big Ten and the nation, followed by No. 3 Penn State, No. 5 Michigan, the sixth-ranked Gophers, Illinois (No. 8) and Iowa (No. 9).
The Gophers by Event
Floor Exercise - Cole Storer owns three of the team’s top five scores of the season on floor, with his highest mark of 9.550 coming in the meet against Wisconsin (3/3). Storer has been the leading scorer for the Gophers on floor four times this season, and is the top-ranked Gopher in the event, and is listed at No. 6 this week. Adam Reichow is also a strong competitor as he posted the Gophers highest score on floor all season at the Big Ten Team Championships with a 9.600. Reichow is ranked eighth in the nation in the event. Andre Berry is ranked 17th in the event and will also be a factor.
Pommel Horse - Kit Beikmann has been the team’s top scorer on the horse in nine of 10 meets this season and he captured the Big Ten title in the event with a career-high mark of 9.125. He owns the Gophers’ top five horse scores this year, and is the only Minnesota gymnast ranked in the event, coming into the meet ranked fourth.
Still Rings - Mitchell Mays is the top Gopher on the rings. Mays has been the Gophers’ top rings performer at six competitions this year, with his best score of 9.500 coming at the meet against Wisconsin (3/3). Mays has earned four of the team’s top five rings scores this season.
Vault - Mitchell Mays owns the team’s top vault score of the season, a 9.375 scored at the Big Ten Championships in the event finals. That score earned Mays second place on vault at the Championships. Mays is the top-ranked Gopher gymnast on vault, ranked No. 4 this week. Cole Storer is ranked sixth on vault and has led the team in scoring on vault more often than any other Gopher, and has been the team’s top performer at five meets. Adam Reichow is the third Gopher ranked nationally in the event at No. 20.
Parallel Bars - Sergei Dmitriev is the top-ranked Minnesota gymnast on the parallel bars, coming in ranked eighth overall. Dmitriev has had the highest Gopher score on parallel bars at four meets this season. Dmitriev’s highest score this year is a 9.400, which he accomplished at the Big Ten Championships to qualify for the event finals. Jake Lee is ranked ninth on parallel bars and owns two of the team’s top three scores in the event, including two marks of 9.400, coming in the meets against Michigan (2/17) and Nebraska (3/10).
High Bar - Two Minnesota gymnasts are nationally-ranked on the high bar, Jake Lee (No. 9) and Cole Storer (No. 16). Lee owns the team’s top high bar score of the season with a 9.500, which he earned at the final regular-season meet at Illinois-Chicago (3/24). Storer finished fifth at the Big Ten Championships on high bar. Aaron Fortunato will also contribute as he has two of the team’s top five scores in the event this year, with his highest score of 9.300 coming at Illinois-Chicago. Sergei Dmitriev has been the team’s top scorer on high bar at three meets, earning his season-high score of 9.250 in the meet against Illinois (1/20).
All Around - Minnesota has had two all around competitors this year, Jake Lee and Andre Berry, and both are ranked in the nation’s top 10 this week. Lee is ranked No. 3, while Berry comes in at No. 8 in the final rankings. Lee has competed in the all around at six meets this year, tallying his best score of 53.800 at Nebraska (3/10). Lee owns four of the team’s top five all around scores this year. Berry has been an all around performer in six meets as well, and earned his top score of 52.550 against Wisconsin (3/3).
BIG TEN COACH OF THE YEAR - MIKE BURNS
Mike Burns was named the Big Ten Co-Coach of the Year with Ohio State’s Miles Avery. Burns has led the Gopher program back among the elite and hopes this weekend’s NCAA Championships will bring more acclaim to the Gopher program.
“The Big Ten meet was a tremendous 24-hour span for Gopher gymnastics and I was very honored to join Miles as the Big Ten Coach of the Year,” said Burns.
BIG TEN FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR - ANDRE BERRY
All-arounder Andre Berry was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year at the Big Ten Championships. Berry has been a huge contributor to the resurgent Gophers in 2007 and is currently ranked eighth overall in the all-around and 17th on floor exercise.
LEE FOR NISSEN-EMERY
Senior Jake Lee has been named one of eight finalists for the Nissen-Emery Award, which is given to the nation’s outstanding senior gymnast and is considered the most coveted award in collegiate gymnastics.
Lee joins Jack Bouchard (Iowa), Brain Carr (Oklahoma), Matt Cohen (Penn State), Peter Derman (Stanford), Willie Ito (Ohio State), Justin Laury (Michigan) and Tim Morrison (Illinois-Chicago) as finalists for the award.
"The coveted Nissen-Emery Award is the highest honor that is bestowed on a collegiate gymnast," said Gopher head men's gymnastics coach Mike Burns. "Only the top gymnasts in the country are considered as candidates for this award and our own Jake Lee is one of eight finalists this year. The Nissen-Emery Award has been in existence since 1966 when it was awarded to Jim Curzi of Michigan State University and the list of winners since then is like a who’s who of men’s gymnastics. I’m thrilled that Jake has been selected as one of the finalists for such an awesome award."
LAST YEAR AT THE NCAAs
Minnesota finished in fifth place with a score of 206.950 in the qualifying round of the NCAA Championships, held at the University of Oklahoma.
Minnesota competed on the pommel horse in the first rotation, and the team struggled as it did on the horse at the Big Ten Championships two weeks prior. The team managed a 31.800 on the horse, the second-lowest team score in the event this year. Kit Beikmann led the way for the Gophers, earning an 8.250 to place eighth and advance to the event finals.
The Gophers moved to the still rings in their next rotation, and earned a team score of 33.700. Jake Lee was the highest finisher for Minnesota on the rings, earning an 8.700 to finish in 13th place in the event.
On the vault, Minnesota earned a 36.175, just .025 less than the team’s highest vault score this year, which was a 36.200 at the Big Ten Championships. Jake Lee set a career-high mark with a 9.475 on the vault, leading Minnesota in the event with a third-place finish. Sergei Dmitriev’s score of 8.900 was his best in the 2006 season.
The Gophers also had their second-highest score of the season on the parallel bars, earning a 35.725. Minnesota parallel bars score was the highest of the meet. Jake Lee was again Minnesota’s top scorer, placing second with a 9.200 on the parallel bars. Sergei Dmitriev scored a 9.075 to match his career-best score and place fifth.
On the high bar, Minnesota tallied a score of 35.525, the team’s best high bar score of the year. Minnesota’s previous best score on the high bar was a 35.250 against Wisconsin on March 4. Sergei Dmitriev was the highest scorer for the Gophers with a 9.200, setting a personal-best mark in the event. Dmitriev tied for eighth place, and advanced to the event finals.
The Gophers finished the meet on the floor, where the team earned a mark of 34.025. Sergei Dmitriev was again the leader for the Maroon and Gold, coming in 16th place with a score of 8.625. In the all around, Jake Lee finished in fifth place with a total score of 52.550. Justin Meyer came in eighth, earning a mark of 50.425. Both gymnasts have advanced to the all around finals.