Gophers defeat UIC for fifth consecutive victory

Minnesota won 386.050 to 354.900.

Freshman gymnast Shane Wiskus performs on the pommel horse during a meet on Jan. 27, 2018 at Maturi Pavilion. 

Max Ostenso, Daily File Photo

Freshman gymnast Shane Wiskus performs on the pommel horse during a meet on Jan. 27, 2018 at Maturi Pavilion. 

Erik Nelson

Minnesota rested two of its top gymnasts on Sunday against UIC: freshman Shane Wiskus and junior Shaun Herzog. The Gophers needed quality performances from other gymnasts if they wanted to win their fifth straight meet.

The Gophers won in Chicago without Wiskus and Herzog, defeating the Flames by a final score of 386.050 to 354.900. 

Even though Minnesota won, head coach Mike Burns said he was upset with the team after the meet. Minnesota’s next opponent is Iowa.

“We need to be a better team than we were [against UIC] because Iowa is on an upswing,” Burns said. “If we perform the way we did today, we might be beaten by them.”

Minnesota gymnasts won all six individual event titles. Junior Vitali Kan finished first on pommel horse, earning a score of 13.400. He also won the vault title, receiving a score of 14.700.

Senior Alex Wittenberg won the floor event with a score of 14.700. Kan finished second with a score of 14.200 and senior Luke Aldrich finished third, receiving a score of 13.550. 

Senior Yaroslav Pochika earned the rings title, receiving a score of 13.550. Freshmen Colton Dee and  Russell Johnson finished second and third, respectively. Dee earned a score of 12.900 and Johnson received a score of 12.650.

“We know we’re a great team and we need to show it,” Pochinka said. “We’re looking forward to keep going with a few more Big Ten opponents, especially Iowa and Nebraska.”

Senior Joel Gagnon said Minnesota’s mentality was different than usual.

“We weren’t going against necessarily a higher-ranked opponent,” Gagnon said. “We were more relaxed.”

Junior Ben Winkel won the parallel bars title, earning a score of 14.100. It was Winkel’s first career event title. Senior Jalon Stephens won the high bar title with a score of 13.100. Senior Tristan Duran finished second on high bars with a score of 12.650. 

Senior Joel Gagnon said the team does better when Wiskus and Herzog are in the lineup.

“Both are tremendous parts of our team. They got some needed rest,” Gagnon said. “We’re a strong team and they’re some of the strongest among us. We’re looking forward to having them back in.”

The Gophers face Iowa on March 11 in Iowa City.

While Minnesota has one more road meet before returning to Maturi Pavilion, Gagnon said he is excited to celebrate senior day on March 18 when Minnesota battles California.

“It’s surreal to think that it’s already my senior night,” Gagnon said. “Hopefully, getting a nice win over California would be icing on the cake.”