Minnesota finishes home slate strong

The men’s team won, but the women’s team fell on the road to No. 2 LSU.

Senior Ellis Mannon competes on the pommel horse against Iowa on Saturday at Sports Pavilion.

Juliet Farmer

Senior Ellis Mannon competes on the pommel horse against Iowa on Saturday at Sports Pavilion.

by Brad Bobel

If there was a perfect way for Minnesota to send off its seniors, it happened on Saturday.

The Gophers dominated Iowa 436.250-421.700 for their highest score of the season.

“It was a phenomenal meet. These guys really rallied for senior night,” head coach Mike Burns said.

Minnesota started the meet strong on the floor as the Gophers took a sizable lead after one event. Freshman Joel Gagnon led the Gophers, posting a 15. Sophomore Zach Liebler was close behind with a 14.95.

Senior Ellis Mannon, defending national pommel horse champion, kept the momentum going, scoring a 15.35 and blowing the rest of the scores out of the water.

“That was the first pommel horse routine I’ve hit at home this year,” Mannon said. “But I put it together tonight, and it was a great feeling.”

Senior Steve Jaciuk started his impressive senior night by notching a career-high 15.3 on the still rings while the Gophers scored a team total 74.5.

To cap off a strong vault session, freshman Yaroslav Pochinka posted a 15.35, a collegiate high.

“Not only is his score super valuable, but what he does for the atmosphere and the team is invaluable,” Burns said.

Jaciuk kept his momentum going by notching a 15.3 for the second time that meet on parallel bars to lead Minnesota.

“I’m more zeroed in, since this is my last year and I know my capabilities,” Jaciuk said. “It’s refreshing to finally see the results pan out.”

The Gophers finished off Iowa on the high bar and then honored their seniors for their contributions to the program for all four years.

“[Us seniors] have instilled our own system into this program, of more passion, more consistency and more heart,” Jaciuk said. “And I can tell that with the younger guys it’s going to stay.”

LSU too much for Minnesota

 Junior Lindsay Mable’s 10 consecutive all-around crown streak came to a halt Friday as the Gophers competed in front of an LSU-program-record crowd in Baton Rouge, La.

Minnesota fell to No. 2 LSU 198.375-195.450 as the Tigers won each of the team events and every individual title.

LSU recorded a program-best score and beat the school record on the vault.

“We knew LSU was great and that they would be competing for the national championship, so our battle wasn’t with them,” interim head coach Jenny Hansen. “It was to do our best and keep improving.”

After LSU’s record-breaking vault scores, Minnesota performed its worst on its first event, putting the Gophers in a hole they couldn’t overcome.

“We didn’t know they broke the record, but we knew that they killed it,” Mable said. “We knew it was senior night, so we expected big scores.”

Senior Jenny Covers competed after missing time with an injury, leading the Gophers on the vault with a 9.85.

The meet ended with LSU tying its school record on the floor with a 49.7. LSU’s lowest event score of 49.375 was 0.325 higher than Minnesota’s highest score of 49.05.

“We met as a team afterwards and talked about personal responsibility,” Hansen said. “We are capable of good things, but they need to believe it.”