Men pull out tough quad-meet win

Also, women struggle to a third-place finish against Penn State and Alabama.

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Mark Vancleave

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Lexi Pluym

After just being named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week, senior Aaron Fortunato helped lead the Gophers to a win on their home floor for the second consecutive week. Thanks to improvements on five of the six events from last weekâÄôs meet, No. 8 Minnesota dominated its opponents Saturday at the Sports Pavilion with a score of 350.55. No. 10 Nebraska ended the quad meet in second with 342.4 points. No. 14 Air Force and Calgary were far behind, finishing with 329.8 and 302.45 points, respectively. One thing the Gophers have looked to improve since the beginning of the season is their performance on the pommel horse, finally doing so Saturday night. Minnesota finished with 56.35 points on the horse, a 3.25-point improvement from a week ago. âÄúWe still had some mistakes, but I was really pleasedâÄù Gophers head coach Mike Burns said. âÄúThey were ready to come out here and get the job done.âÄù Freshman Harris Coleman impressed on the vault, scoring a 15.15. Coleman will join some of his teammates next weekend in Las Vegas, Nev., for the Winter Cup, where he will be the only freshman in attendance. He said that Saturday gave him more motivation for the rest of the season. âÄú[My confidence is] at a 10 out of 10,âÄù said Coleman. âÄú[TonightâÄôs performance] has pushed me a lot. This is a big motivator for me.âÄù Coleman will try to keep his nerves at bay as he prepares for next week. âÄúIf I get nervous, I get stressed, and that encourages me more to fall, so I try not to get nervous at all,âÄù he said. Burns agrees that the biggest element of the GophersâÄô success is the confidence that has been building with two straight home competitions. âÄúHaving these two home meets got us in the groove of what we want to doâÄù he said. WomenâÄôs confidence absent Just a week after a big victory against Michigan State, the Gophers womenâÄôs gymnastics team couldnâÄôt manage to carry momentum into their meet with Big Ten competitor Penn State and No. 1 Alabama. Alabama took first place, ending with 196.6 points at the meet in College Station, Pa. Penn State was a close second, earning 196.925 points, and Minnesota reluctantly claimed third, finishing with 192.85 points. The Gophers failed to improve any of their scores from last week. In fact, all of their scores were lower in each event compared to their win over the Spartans. Minnesota head coach Meg Stephenson said she feels that she has a good team, but if the confidence isnâÄôt there, the team wonâÄôt be successful. âÄúHonestly, I would have to say confidence [was the biggest challenge] âÄî believing in themselves and what they can do,âÄù Stephenson said. Vault has been a strong point all season for this gymnastics team, but it was the GophersâÄô lowest score on Saturday, ending with just 47.975 points. Stephenson said the confidence was lacking and that is the only explanation as to why the womenâÄôs performance declined. The womenâÄôs next meet is the annual Best of Minnesota, when the Gophers welcome Gustavus, Hamline and Winona State at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Sports Pavilion.