Mayses follow same path to Minnesota

Brothers Clinton and Mitchell Mays work together to make the Gophers stronger.

For brothers Clinton and Mitchell Mays, the main thing they say sets them apart from each other is their hair – Clinton with a shaved head and Mitchell with his grown out.

Both are members of Minnesota’s men’s gymnastics team, and the different styles represent their vastly different interests.

But when it comes to the gym, they have taken more similar paths.

Clinton Mays, a senior, said that he decided to come to Minnesota after being recruited by former coach Fred Roethlisberger and enjoying his first visit to campus.

When it came time for Mitchell Mays to pick a school last year, he said, he didn’t have a decision to make. He knew he wanted to compete at Minnesota with his brother, he said.

The two have been training and competing with each other at the same gym in Texas since Clinton Mays was 5 and Mitchell Mays was 2.

Minnesota coach Mike Burns said their strength and size give them the ideal bodies to compete in men’s gymnastics.

“They’re like a couple of physical specimens,” Burns said. “Over the years, as they’ve been training, they’ve developed a lot of physical attributes that most athletes strive for.”

Burns said the brothers are dependable competitors, which is an important aspect of being a gymnast, because they usually perform as well in practice as they do in meets.

Though the Mays brothers said they are not overly competitive with each other, they said each other’s accomplishments definitely motivate them to work harder.

“If I see him doing something and it seems like he’s getting a little bit better, I push myself,” Clinton Mays said. “I don’t want my younger brother to outdo me.”

Clinton Mays is a fixture in the Gophers’ lineup this season, competing regularly in four events and sometimes on all six.

He is the best on the team in the still rings, regularly winning event titles and scoring a career-high 9.7000 three times this season.

Mitchell Mays has competed on the still rings and pommel horse every meet this season, but he is training to compete in the all-around in future seasons.

He said he always takes note of what skills his brother is doing so he knows what to emulate.

“I want to be as good or better than him, so I’m always trying to push myself to be equal to him for right now,” Mitchell Mays said. “But later on, I want to be doing the skills he does or maybe more.”

And Burns said he thinks Mitchell Mays has the tools to do just that.

“He’s going to look really good when he gets a little more polished,” Burns said. “I think he’s going to be a really fine-looking gymnast.”

Mitchell Mays said that it will be hard on him next year, when his brother is graduated and no longer training with him.

For now, Burns is concentrating on this year’s team and the pleasure of both of the Mays brothers being in the Gophers’ lineup.

In fact, Burns said he hopes Clinton Mays will stay involved with the team after this season so he can keep them together for just a little longer.

“Good bunch of kids,” Burns said. “Every mother should be blessed with children like them.”