April 27, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota men's gymnastics team held its annual season-ending banquet and awards ceremony on Saturday evening. The event marks the close of a successful 2014 campaign. Head coach Mike Burns and assistant coaches Russ Fystrom and Kostya Kolesnikov honored the Gophers with this season’s team awards.
Junior Ellis Mannon received the team's Most Valuable Gymnast award, along with the Outstanding Accomplishment award, after finishing the season as the NCAA champion and Big Ten champion on the pommel horse. Mannon also made significant progress as an all-around gymnast this season, setting or tying his career-best score on every apparatus but still rings.
Three other Gophers were recognized for their achievements at the NCAA championships. Junior captain Steve Jaciuk was named the Gophers' Outstanding Championship Competitor. Jaciuk finished ninth in the nation on high bar (14.550) and narrowly missed advancing to the NCAA individual event finals on parallel bars as well. Jaciuk also finished fifth on parallel bars (15.175) and seventh on high bar (14.700) at the Big Ten championships.
Seniors John Scallon and Matt Frey were honored for their postseason accomplishments as well. Scallon received the Most Improved Championship Competitor Award after tying for 15th on the pommel horse with a season-high 14.300 at the NCAA Qualifier. Meanwhile, Frey received the Outstanding NCAA Competitor Award for finishing ninth in the nation on parallel bars (14.900) as one of four Gophers to advance to the NCAA event finals.
The rest of the Gophers' senior class was recognized at the banquet as Adam Kern received the Spirit of Gopher Gymnastics Award, Justin Morinishi received the Most Conscientious Gymnast Award and Zack Chase received the Outstanding Career Award. Steffen Beck was honored with the Comeback Gymnast of the Year Award, capping his collegiate career with a successful senior season after missing the 2013 season due to injury. Fellow senior Nathan Fortunato received the Academic Excellence Award for his 4.00 grade point average while studying Resource Recreation Management.
Freshman Zach Liebler was recognized as Minnesota's Freshman of the Year after competing on floor exercise and high bar in his debut season. He also received his Minnesota letter jacket from M Club Director George Adzick as the Gopher earned his first varsity letter this year. Adzick also presented the graduating seniors with their M Club pins.
Senior Sam Wright, another Minnesota newcomer, was honored with the team's Rookie of the Year award. Wright transferred to Minnesota after competing for Iowa his first two seasons. The senior nursing major closed out his collegiate career with the Gophers, competing solely on high bar for the Maroon & Gold.
Junior Sean Bauer was honored with the Coaches Appreciation Award, and sophomore Paul Montague, Jr., was named the Most Improved Gymnast after earning career-high scores on all four of his events in his second year as a Gopher. Fellow sophomore Jack Metcalf received the Most Consistent Gymnast Award; Metcalf averaged 14.850 on rings and 13.908 on vault this season and earned a career-best 15.200 on rings at the Big Ten championships.
Junior Donnie Carper received the Most Tenacious Gymnast Award, and freshman Mitchell Soukup was honored with the Most Inspirational Award for his positive attitude while missing the season due to injury.
2013-14 Minnesota Team Awards
Rookie of the Year Award – Sam Wright
Freshman of the Year Award - Zach Liebler
Spirit of Gopher Gymnastics Award – Adam Kern
Most Improved Gymnast Award – Paul Montague, Jr.
Coaches Appreciation Award – Sean Bauer
Most Conscientious Gymnast Award – Justin Morinishi
Most Inspirational Award – Mitchell Soukup
Most Tenacious Gymnast Award – Donnie Carper
Academic Excellence Award – Nathan Fortunato
Outstanding Accomplishment - Ellis Mannon
Most Consistent Gymnast Award – Jack Metcalf
Comeback Gymnast of the Year Award – Steffen Beck
Most Improved Championship Competitor Award - John Scallon
Outstanding NCAA Competitor Award – Matt Frey
Outstanding Championship Competitor Award – Steve Jaciuk
Outstanding Career Award – Zack Chase
Most Valuable Gymnast Award – Ellis Mannon
The athletes and coaches voted Jaciuk and Montague as the team’s 2014-15 captains. Jaciuk enters his third season as team captain after leading the 2014 team and serving as co-captain in 2013. The Gophers will return 11 gymnasts from this year's squad while adding six newcomers. Minnesota graduates eight seniors from the 2013-14 team, saying farewell to Steffen Beck, Zack Chase, Nathan Fortunato, Matt Frey, Adam Kern, Justin Morinishi, John Scallon and Sam Wright.
Wittenberg's NCAA Address
Alex Wittenberg was chosen as the student-athlete representative for the 2016 Men's Gymnastics NCAA Championships.
Gophers Finish Sixth at NCAA Championships
Minnesota tallied four All-America finishes and its best team finish in nine years.
Gophers Advance to NCAA Day 2
Minnesota finished second in Session 1 and is guaranteed its highest NCAA finish since 2007.