Senior Mitchell Mays claimed All-America honors on vault and sophomore Cole Storer earned All-American accolades on high bar to highlight Minnesota’s performances during the individual event finals of the 66th National Collegiate Men’s Gymnastics Championships Saturday night at Maples Pavilion.
Mays, the nation’s top-ranked gymnast on vault throughout the season and the heavy favorite to claim the NCAA title entering the championships, was nearly flawless during Friday’s preliminaries to earn an eye-popping score of 16.700.
Saturday night’s performance in the finals was a different story, however, as the senior landed short on his Tsukahara double pike for a score of 15.625 and an eighth-place finish in his final appearance as a Golden Gopher.
Minnesota’s top performance of the night was turned by Storer, who performed an inspiring routine to finish as the runner-up on high bar. Storer earned a score 14.925 0.075 points off his season high to finish just behind Paul Ruggeri of Illinois, who earned a score of 15.000 to with the title.
It was the second career All-American citation for Storer, who finished fifth on floor exercise at the 2007 championships. The sophomore was unable to add a third on vault, however, as he scored 14.675 to finish 10th.
Junior Kit Beikmann, the final Gopher to earn a berth in the individual event championships, finished ninth on pommel horse with a score of 14.125 to just miss out on his second straight All-American citation on that event.
The National Collegiate Championships close the book on the season for the Gophers, who will now look forward to the 2009 campaign. One of the youngest teams at this year’s championships, Minnesota will return a total of 14 student-athletes next year and to the mix will add a highly-rated recruiting class that is expected to help the Gophers continue their climb toward the top of the college gymnastics world.