The end of August will be exciting for the University of Minnesota Gophers with athletes competing in two major gymnastics competitions.
Newly hired assistant coach Jordan Valdez along with senior Jalon Stephens and incoming freshman Shane Wiskus will be competing at the P&G Championships on August 17-20 in Anaheim, Calif.
The Maroon and Gold will also be represented at the World University Games from August 19-23 in Taipei, Taiwan. The Gophers are the only team in the country to have two representatives on Team USA with Tristan Duran and Vitali Kan competing. Team Canada also has two Gophers on their squad with Joel Gagnon and Justin Karstadt competing.
The World University Games are held every other year and are organized by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The event is a multi-sport competition open to men and women who are between the ages of 17 and 24, and are or have been within the past year, a student at a college or university.
'It's been a busy summer in Cooke Hall with our guys preparing for two big competitions,” head coach Mike Burns said. “It's been quite an honor to have gymnasts selected for the University Games. This will be a great final push to the summer. I'm very proud of the time and effort these guys have put in preparing for these critical competitions.”
At the P&G Qualifier Wiskus finished second in the all-around with an 82.200. He was the only gymnast to tally six event scores in the top-ten at the event. His top performance came on the vault with a 14.100. Wiskus is no stranger to the P&G Championships. In 2016 he was the junior national all-around champion.
Stephens tallied his top performances on vault where he scored a 13.750 and parallel bars where he notched a 13.700 at the P&G Qualifier. He finished with a 66.4 all-around score and qualified for the P&G Championships for the first time since he was a junior in high school. Stephens is coming off an All-American season. He finished third at the NCAA Championships on high bar with a 14.500.
Valdez participated in both high bar and parallel bar at the P&G qualifier earning a score of 14.350 to come away with the parallel bar event title. He also finished in fourth place on high bar with a score of 13.050. The Gophers new assistant was the 2014 NCAA national champion on high bar.
Duran and Kan are both fresh off earning All-America honors for the first time in their careers. Duran was named an All-American on both parallel bars (14.500) and high bar (14.350). Kan was named All-American on vault (14.650) and also competed on floor, pommel horse, and rings during finals at the NCAA Championships.
Gagnon is a team captain at Minnesota. He competed on floor, vault, parallel bars, and high bar during finals at the NCAA Championships and recorded a personal record on parallel bars with a 14.550 at the NCAA Qualifying Session.
Karstadt was named the B1G Co-Gymnast of the Year. He competed in all-around during finals at the NCAA Championships and recorded a season-best on pommel horse with a 14.950 at the NCAA Qualifying Session. He earned silver on pommel horse at the B1G Championships.
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Gophers Prepare For Major Competitions
The Gophers will be represented at the World University Games and the P&G Championships at the end of August.
Meet Assistant Coach Jordan Valdez
Last week the Gophers announced the addition of Jordan Valdez to the men's gymnastics coaching staff.
Gophers Hire Valdez As Assistant Coach
The University of Minnesota has hired Jordan Valdez as the latest member of their coaching staff, head coach Mike Burns announced Friday.