Gophers look to rebound at home

Minnesota will host its first meet of the season this weekend.

Brad Bobel

Joel Gagnon was the star of the night for the Gophers at the Windy City Invitational last weekend.

But despite Gagnon’s performance, head coach Mike Burns said the team as a whole underperformed and needs to let that go.

The team struggled against four other Big Ten teams and placed fifth out of six teams.

“Our hit percentage was 58 percent [at the Windy City Invitational], and we weren’t very competitive, but we are trying to get it back to about 75 percent,” Burns said.

But Gagnon was a bright spot in his first collegiate meet, scoring a 14.550 on floor, which earned him a top-five finish for the routine.

He said the team’s captains — senior Steve Jaciuk and junior Paul Montague — have been mentoring and leading the underclassmen.

“They have been great leaders so far, and Steve just kept telling me to relax before my floor event,” Gagnon said.

Senior Ellis Mannon said Gagnon doesn’t get rattled like freshmen normally do, which helps him succeed.

“Joel’s performance was a pleasant surprise, and he competed confidently [on the floor] and took the bull by the horns,” Burns said.

Gagnon also competed in the vault and the horizontal bar.

“I had a fall on the high bar, but I just need to improve and be more consistent, and also make sure I’m in the right mindset,” Gagnon said.

Mannon said some of the team’s freshmen were discouraged after the meet because it was their first loss.

“Others wanted to get back in the gym and work even harder,” Mannon said.

The Gophers have had a chance to do that this week as they prepare for their next opponent, Air Force, which comes into this weekend in the top 10.

“Air Force is a good team, but hopefully being at home with our own crowd and our own equipment, we will perform better,” Burns said. “We had a good week of practice hopefully we can go out and compete.”

Minnesota fell to 11th in the rankings and will look to bounce back this weekend.

“[After the Windy City Invitational] there was a level of embarrassment and a feeling of inadequacy,” Burns said. “But there are a couple spots open for competition and we’re looking forward to compete [against Air Force].”