Miscues cost men’s gymnasts shot at national meet

by Susan Filkins

A great deal of excitement surrounded the No. 7 Gophers men’s gymnastics team’s chances to qualify for the NCAA championships, but the heightened feeling ended in a huge letdown.
The team said it felt its chances were great to finish in the top three at the NCAA Eastern Regional championships in West Point, N.Y., to qualify for nationals.
At the end of the meet, the reality was a fifth place finish, abruptly ending the Gophers’ season.
“We started out getting some low scores on parallel bars,” sophomore Jason Krob said. “Then we moved to high bar and fell apart. It is one of those meets where you look back and say, ‘Wow, that was frustrating.'”
The three teams predicted to qualify for nationals did just that. No. 1 Ohio State, No. 3 Iowa and No. 6 Penn State all advanced. The only team Minnesota defeated at the regionals was Illinois-Chicago, which finished last.
Minnesota scored a disappointing 224.125, its lowest score in the past month.
Gophers coach Fred Roethlisberger said his team would need to put together a complete meet in order to qualify for nationals, but several things went wrong.
One of the major problems during the meet was in the high bar. Four of the six gymnasts for Minnesota recorded lower scores than normal in their routines, bringing the team score down.
“There was not necessarily a lot of falling, but we were really sloppy on high bar,” Krob said.
Other individuals had problems in other events that were also uncharacteristic and did not help the Gopher’s score.
Despite the missed routines, there were a couple of bright spots for the Gophers. Three Minnesota gymnasts will travel to Iowa City, Iowa, in two weeks to compete in the national individual event competition.
Krob and junior George Beatty qualified for nationals in the individual competition in the pommel horse. Beatty scored a 9.625 in the event and Krob recorded a 9.675.
Krob said qualifying for an individual event feels good, but he would much rather travel to Iowa as a team.
The other Gopher to qualify was senior Frank Ticknor in the vault. Ticknor scored a personal best score of 9.7 in the event.
Ohio State dominated the individual events as expected. Buckeyes senior Drew Durbin won the all-around competition as well as the pommel horse. His teammate, senior Blaine Wilson, took first place in the floor exercise, vault and parallel bars.
The winner in the high bar was Ohio State sophomore Doug Stibel. The only non-Buckeye to win an individual event was Michigan State’s Victor Prisk in the still rings.
Although not all the Gophers gymnasts’ seasons are over, the fact that the team did not qualify for nationals was extremely devastating.
“It was something we had been working for all season, and we really felt we had a chance,” Krob said. “But after the first two events, we were pretty down. And from there it slipped away pretty fast.”