2010 Preview: Pommel Horse In GopherSports.com's series of previews, we look at the Minnesota gymnastics team's prospects on the pommel horse.
University of Minnesota men's gymnastics coach Mike Burns feels his Golden Gopher team could be strong on the pommel horse this season, despite the loss of two-time All-America performer and former Big Ten Champion Kit Beikmann.
Beikmann finished fifth on the pommel horse at the NCAA Championships last season. He averaged a score of 14.880 last season, leading the Gophers to a No. 4 national ranking in the event as a team.
"We lost a great guy in Kit Beikmann," Burns said. "He was a very, very solid competitor for us on the event and just a hard, hard worker. He was one of those guys you could depend on almost every time and he delivered 99 times out of 100. That's a big loss."
But despite losing an All-America caliber athlete on the event, Burns believes Minnesota can make up for that loss with depth and the addition of a youngster.
"The best guy on pommel horse is going to be Harris Coleman," Burns said. "He's a freshman, so that's a lot of expectation for a freshman to kind of carry the team on that event. But we have a solid group. Andre Berry has been looking pretty solid. Aaron Fortunato is looking pretty good. Russell Dabritz, I think, could really add a lot to our lineup. Colin McGuire is going to be a surprise. He's probably got one of the best circles, in terms of technique, in the gym."
Adjustments, both in training and mid-routine, can be a key to producing better pommel horse routines.
"This is an event that there is so little room for error on," Burns said. "If you're off an inch, you're off a mile in that event. What we're trying to focus on is creating routines where they don't have to be on at such a precise level. Part of the success level we're looking for is trying to create a situation where these guys can make smart decisions and good solid adjustments."
Coleman was the 2008 junior national runner-up on the pommel horse. In the video below (which was shot back in August), he calls it his best event and his favorite.
"I'm pretty much in love with that event," Coleman said.
Burns hopes to be in love with Coleman's routines as the season fast approaches. The Gopher head coach said being a freshman shouldn't be too much of a hindrance for Coleman.
"I'm not so sold that being a freshman is such a bad thing," Burns said. "If you're a freshman and you're good, it's the same as being a senior you're good - you're good. He's good."
The Gophers and their fans will get their first chance to see how good the entire Minnesota squad is on the pommel horse Jan. 8 at the annual Alumni Meet, slated for 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers open their regular season on Jan. 16 at the Windy City Invitational in Chicago.