A selfless McGuire gives Mays new life at Nationals

Colin McGuire stepped aside after a failed vault by senior Mitchell Mays.

Sacrifice is a cliché often talked about in sports, but rarely displayed at the level that it was through the Minnesota men’s gymnastics team at this weekend’s NCAA Championships.

At the NCAA gymnastics team competition Thursday night at Stanford, Gophers senior Mitchell Mays, the nation’s No. 1 vaulter, missed on his vault attempt and was presumed eliminated from contention for a national title in the event as the No. 4 qualifier.

May’s uncharacteristic performance on the vault also hindered Minnesota’s chances from advancing as a team, being eliminated by placing fourth and failing to top the 350-point mark for the first time in over a month.

Realizing only the top-three individual scores from non-advancing teams qualify for the next round, teammate and sophomore Colin McGuire, who scored well enough on Thursday to become the No. 3 qualifier on the vault, stepped aside and allowed Mays to take his spot.

In return, Mays turned in his best routine of the year on Friday, earning a season-high score of 16.700 to win the event after performing his Tsukahara double pike to near perfection.

“Colin was just amazingly unselfish in his actions. He is going to get a badge of honor for his unselfish act,” Gophers head coach Mike Burns said. “He was able to provide Mitchell new life, and Mitchell took advantage of it by performing his best vault of the year.”

Gophers advancing to Friday’s NCAA qualifying session as individuals included senior team captain Sergei Dmitriev on parallel bars, high bar and rings, sophomore Cole Storer on vault and high bar, sophomore Andre Berry on floor exercise and pommel horse, junior Kit Beikmann on pommel horse, Mays on rings, parallel bars and a late addition on vault, McGuire on floor exercise, sophomore Aaron Fortunato on parallel bars and senior co-captain Steve Vuong on high bar.

“To advance this many guys on all six events is the next best thing to making it as a team,” Burns said.

After Friday’s qualifying session, only Mays on the vault, Beikmann on pommel horse and Storer on vault and high bar advanced to the NCAA Championships on Saturday.

Although the heavy favorite to win on vault entering the competition, Mays landed short on his Tsukahara double pike for a score of 15.625 and an eighth-place finish in his final appearance as a Gophers gymnast on Saturday.

Beikmann just missed out on his second-straight All-American citation by finishing ninth on pommel horse with a score of 14.125.

Because All-American accolades are given out to the top-eight scores at the championship, Mays received his due honor and Storer, who performed an inspiring routine to finish as the runner-up on high bar, also received the award.

“Cole did amazing,” Burns said. “He stuck it like a lawn dart and couldn’t have done it a whole lot better,”

It was the second-career All-American citation for Storer, who finished fifth on floor exercise at the 2007 championships.

“We are looking forward to bringing home some hardware,” Burns said.