Shane Wiskus impresses in debut as Minnesota opens season

Minnesota gymnasts finished second, just behind No. 3 Illinois.

Tristan Duran competes on the high bar during the Gophers' meet against the Air Force on Jan. 21, 2017. The Gophers beat the Air Force 407.700 to 395.350.

Maddy Fox

Tristan Duran competes on the high bar during the Gophers’ meet against the Air Force on Jan. 21, 2017. The Gophers beat the Air Force 407.700 to 395.350.

Erik Nelson

Shane Wiskus had no idea his name would be called as the winner of the all-around title at the 2018 Windy City Invitational.

Wiskus, a freshman, received an 81.250. He finished first and third in the floor exercises and parallel bars, respectively. Despite the accolades, he was surprised.

“I didn’t expect it,” Wiskus said. “I was over talking to my parents for 20 minutes. They flew from Minneapolis to come watch me. I hear my name called and I didn’t even know what to do. I was like, ‘Wait, what’s going on?’ I had no idea.”

Minnesota competed against Illinois, Iowa and Illinois-Chicago in its first meet of the season. Illinois finished in first place with 404.300. Minnesota was runner-up.

Head coach Mike Burns said the team wasn’t as sharp as he would like it to be. Minnesota’s lowest score came during the high bars event.

“We gave three points away pretty easily last night,” Burns said. “If we had performed a little better, I think we could have taken the team title. That was a little bit of a bitter [pill] leaving Chicago. It’s definitely going to give us some fuel to our fire.”

Senior Yaroslav Pochinka finished first in the vault exercise, earning a score of 14.600. It was his second-consecutive vault title at the Windy City Invitational. The Gophers earned a 69.450 in the vault and finished in second place behind Illinois.

Burns was impressed with Wiskus’ performance in Chicago.

“He had a few mishaps here and there, but he kept fighting throughout,” Burns said. “It was a solid day for him all the way around. It was really impressive, but it wasn’t unexpected because he’s that much of a talent.”

Minnesota’s next meet will be at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 at Maturi Pavilion against Iowa. Wiskus said he is excited to make his home debut for the Gophers.