The University of Minnesota men's gymnastics team celebrated a successful 2017 season at the annual team banquet on Friday evening. The event recognized team accomplishments and award winners.
The Gophers placed at the NCAA Championships, the highest program finish in 15 years. Mike Burns was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year for the second time during his tenure.
Most Improved Competitor, Luke Aldrich
- During his first two seasons with the Gophers, Aldrich competed in a handful of meets. This season, Aldrich solidified his spot in both the floor and pommel horse lineups. He competed in all but one meet during his junior year.
Rookie of the Year, Ben Winkel
- After not competing during his first year on campus, Winkel became a consistent part of Minnesota's parallel bars lineup. He had a breakout performance at the Arnold Challenge, scoring a personal record of 14.500 on parallel bars. Winkel also competed on rings in two meets.
Outstanding Accomplishment Award, Jalon Stephens
- Stephens was named an All-American for the first time after tying for bronze on high bar at the NCAA Championships with a score of 14.500.
Outstanding Accomplishment Award, Tristan Duran
- Duran collected All-America accolades on both parallel bars and high bar, the first honors of his career. He was also selected for the World University Games, and will represent Team USA.
Outstanding Accomplishment Award, Vitali Kan
- Kan was named finished eighth on vault with a score of 14.750 to be named an All-American in the event. Like Duran, Kan will also represent Team USA at the World University Games this summer.
Outstanding Accomplishment Award, Alex Wittenberg
- Wittenberg collected the Big Ten title on floor exercise with a 14.550. It was Minnesota's first conference champion since Ellis Mannon in 2015 on pommel horse, and first on floor since Clay Strother in 2003.
Outstanding Career Award, Zach Liebler
- Liebler closed out his time as a Golden Gopher as a four-time All-American after earning his third-straight honor on floor exercise at the 2017 NCAA Championships. Liebler was also a finalist for the Nissen-Emery Award, the most prestigious award in men's gymnastics. He holds the program's top four floor exercise scores, and his school record of 16.150 is the third-highest score in NCAA history.
Coaches Appreciation Award, George Khoury
- Khoury has been the program's undergraduate assistant for two years. His work includes filming and creating highlight videos for each meet, along with other duties. Khoury is a true teammate for the Gophers.
Outstanding Big Ten Championships Competitor, Mitchell Soukup
- During his time at Minnesota, Soukup has shown strength through injury. At the 2017 Big Ten Championships, the senior advanced to his first Big Ten Final on rings.
Most Valuable Gymnast, Justin Karstadt
- Sophomore Karstadt was named the Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Year. During the regular season, he tallied 22 podium finishes including 10 event titles. Karstadt led the team on all-around, pommel horse and parallel bars. He was named to the All-Big Ten First Team for the second-straight year, notching three top-10 finishes at the Big Ten Championships, including a silver medal on pommel horse. Karstadt's 87.050 all-around score at Nebraska tied for second in program history.
Letter Jacket Recipeints
- Timmy Kutyla, Jordan Poganski and Ben Winkel were named letterwinners for the first time and were given their letter jackets.
- Joel Gagnon and Wittenberg have been selected as the 2017-18 team captains. It will be Gagnon's third year and Wittenberg's second as leaders for the program.
With the 2016-17 season in the books, Minnesota will welcome a freshman class that includes Colton Dee, Russell Johnson, Henry Meeker and Shane Wiskus this fall.
Incoming Gophers Shine at Junior Olympic Nationals
Two future Gophers won national titles in the all-around competitions and combined for six titles in total at this past weekend's Junior Olympic National Championships.
Catch Up with the New All-American Trio
Tristan Duran, Vitali Kan and Jalon Stephens combined for four out of five All-America accolades that Minnesota earned.
Gophers Celebrate Strong Season
Minnesota celebrated a successful 2017 season at the annual team banquet on Friday evening. The event recognized team accomplishments and award winners.