May 10, 2013
By Mitch Praxl
The two members of Minnesota's incoming freshman class, Mitchell Soukup and Zach Liebler, continued their preparation for their inaugural collegiate season with strong showings at the recent 2013 USA Gymnastics Junior National Championships. With the new two-division format to the competition, the future Gophers competed in separate divisions.
This was the first year with two different Divisions: Junior Elite (JE) and Junior Olympic (JO). The Junior Elite Division performed Technical Sequences on Day 2 of competition. Technical sequences are similar to the old compulsory program where each gymnast performs the same routine. These routines test the gymnast's ability to perform basic technical skills on each event. The all-around gymnasts must compete in the Junior Elite Division if they want to qualify to the USA Gymnastics US National Championships in August.
Soukup, a native of San Antonio, Texas who competes for Alamo Gymnastics, chose to compete in the JO Division in the 17 year old age group. Liebler, a St. Paul Park native and member of Great Northern Gymnastics, chose the 17-18 year old group of the JE Division.
Soukup finished first on the Still Rings in the Level 10 JO, 17 year old age group with a combined score of 29.60. Additionally, Soukup took fifth on the Pommel Horse with a two-day total of 26.95.
"Mitchell continues to impress us with his results from the Jumnior Nationals," said Minnesota coach Mike Burns. "He will make an immediate impact on the two events he finished in the top six but his parallel bars and vault could also be events that he can contribute on. Besides his gymnastics talents Mitchell brings a solid set of character traits that will be an added attraction to him being a part of our program next year."
Liebler, a Minnesota native, competed in the JE Senior Division and finished the meet in 22nd place. The top 18 qualified to the US National Championships.
"Zach had a solid meet at JO's and will bring some incredible talent to the Gophers on floor exercise, vault,parallel bars, and high rar," said Burns. "Zach just keeps getting better and I see a bright future ahead for him as a part of our program."
The complete list of results can be found on the JO Nationals website: http://www.2013jomens.com/2013mensjuniorolympics/results.html
Preview: Gophers set for quad at Stanford
Minnesota will travel this weekend to compete against Stanford, and the National Teams from both Japan and Canada.
Day Two: Winter Cup Challenge
Stephens finished 23rd in the all-around competition, while alum Mannon finished fifth on pommel horse. Incoming freshman Wiskus also competed in the all-around finals, finishing 12th.
Day One: Winter Cup Challenge
Stephens, Wiskus, Mannon advance to the 2017 Winter Cup Challenge finals this Saturday, Feb. 18. in Las Vegas, Nev.