Room, and time, to improve for Minn.

At nationals, a young men’s team didn’t qualify for the final session, and freshman Kayla Slechta took 29th overall.

Room, and time, to improve for Minn.

Joe Michaud-Scorza, Daily File Photo

Nicolas Hallett

The Gophers menâÄôs gymnastics team finished fourth out of six in its NCAA championship team qualifying session Thursday. With the top three teams from each session advancing, the Gophers were eliminated but sent seven gymnasts to FridayâÄôs individual competition.

Again, Minnesota tasted defeat.

None of the selected Gophers posted scores high enough to progress to the latter stages of the individual competition. Junior DJ Repp tallied MinnesotaâÄôs highest score with a 16th-place finish in the floor exercise. Repp also took part in the all-around finals Friday night where he would again place 16th.

Repp performed well throughout the weekend and qualified for FridayâÄôs finals by putting up the sessionâÄôs top all-around score âÄî an 86.600 in six events.

âÄú[Repp] was the anchor of the team,âÄù head coach Mike Burns said. âÄúI was really happy to see DJ have his career-high in the all-around at the most important meet of the year.âÄù

The other six advancing Gophers were Adam LaFleur on the floor exercise, John Scallon on the pommel horse, Adam Kern and Matt Frey on vault, Ross Cameratta on the parallel bars and Ali Aleiou on the high bar.

Of the six, the only senior is Aleiou. The team will also graduate seniors Michael Paulus and Michael Hillin.

With the relatively small number of departures, the Gophers will return the bulk of a team that finished the season ranked No. 8 in the country.

âÄúThis year we were really freshman heavy,âÄù Burns said. âÄúGetting this far with this amount of youngsters is a really good sign. ItâÄôs really encouraging for the future.âÄù

Burns continued to stress a sense of hunger from himself and the rest of the squad.

âÄúWeâÄôre ready to get back to it,âÄù he said. âÄúWatching a competition like that got the team motivated. After the tournament everyone was talking about what they were going to do for training over the summer and getting back in the gym.âÄù

Freshman Slechta places 29th in championships debut

At the womenâÄôs national championships, up-and-coming freshman Kayla Slechta posted a score of 38.60, placing 18th in her session and 29th overall.

Slechta, the first Gophers freshman to qualify as an all-around competitor at nationals since 1987, was MinnesotaâÄôs lone representative, as the team was eliminated during the NCAA regionals.

The finish is somewhat disappointing considering SlechtaâÄôs aspirations of placing on the podium. On the other hand, competing at the national level as a freshman is an accomplishment in and of itself.

âÄúI know I can do better,âÄù Slechta said.

Coming into nationals, SlechtaâÄôs best event, by far, had been the vault. She finished the season ranked No. 4 on MinnesotaâÄôs all-time top scorers list for the event, and as the second-highest scoring freshman in team history. At the NCAA championships, her vault score of 9.875 was only good for 11th place in the session, epitomizing her weekend.

âÄúI need to get the landing down,âÄù she said. âÄúThat was the difference between where I placed and those who finished ahead of me.âÄù

SlechtaâÄôs highest finish of the competition came on the floor, where she placed ninth with a score of 9.85.

âÄúNow that IâÄôve seen what it takes, I want to bring that back to the team and motivate them. I want to be back, and as a team this time, too.âÄù