The University of Minnesota men's gymnastics team finished fourth in the six-team early session of Thursday's NCAA Championship Team Qualifier at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. The top three teams moved on to Friday night's Team Finals.
Minnesota opened Thursday's session with some success. But the momentum came to a bit of a halt on the pommel horse. The Gophers' performance on the horse contributed to the team's finish and failure to advance to Friday night's team finals. While the team did not advance to Friday night's competition, seven individuals did in five different events.
"In the first four events, we had some great routines and we were on a pretty nice roll," head coach Mike Burns said. "The energy on the team was high and the greatest thing was we didn't let missed routines get us down. The guys kept fighting all the way through the meet."
The Gophers' first event was the vault, where they are perennially strong. The team put a socre of 62.850 on the board. The Gophers were paced by DJ Repp, who turned in the fourth-highest score of the session, with a 16.050.
Following the vault, the Gophers moved over to the parallel bars. Their hot start continued, as they posted a 58.700 score, which was a season best and a school record. Ross Cameratta was the top performer for Minnesota on the bars with a 14.850 total.
Things went well on the high bar as well. Minnesota put a score of 55.800 in the books, which was roughly a half-point better than its season average. Ali Aleiou recorded a 14.100 and was the Gophers' top scorer on the apparatus.
It was then on to the floor exercise, where the Gophers once again bested their season average, this time by nearly a full point. The 58.450 scored by Minnesota included a team-best 14.950 score from Adam LaFleur. Following the floor exercise, Minnesota was on a bye for the next rotation. The bye may have slowed the momentum some, with pommel horse as the event that followed.
"After floor, we had a bye and came out a little rough on the pommel horse," Burns said.
As usual, the Gophers continued to work hard, though. Minnesota put up one of its top scores of the season on the still rings, finishing the meet strong. The Gophers scored a 57.900 on the rings.
Repp was the "anchor of the team" Thursday, according to Burns. He scored an 86.600 in the all-around, hit all six of his routines and put up the top all-around score of the session.
"I was really happy to see DJ have his career-high in the all-around at the most important meet of the year," Burns said.
Oklahoma, Illinois and Penn State all finished in front of Minnesota and will advance to the Team Finals on Friday. The Gophers finished ahead of Illinois-Chicago and Air Force in Thursday's qualifier.
Gopher individuals moving on to Friday night's session for an opportunity to compete in Saturday's individual event finals were Adam LaFleur on the floor exercise, John Scallon on the pommel horse, Adam Kern and Matt Frey on the vault, Ross Cameratta on the parallel bars and Ali Aleiou on the high bar. Repp will take part in the all-around finals Friday night.
"Overall, I was very pleased with the way this team continued to push through the entire season and made great strides to jell as a team," Burns said. "Our seniors deserve so much credit for their four years of hard work and dedication to this program. We had guys advance to day two on every event but still rings, so we still have a lot of gymnastics to do tomorrow."