Mannon, Jaciuk impress in Vegas

The Gophers had an impressive outing from the women’s team, too.

by David Nelson

The bright lights and glamour of Las Vegas didn’t seem to faze juniors Ellis Mannon and Steve Jaciuk.

And neither did some of the best gymnasts in the United States at the 2014 Winter Cup Challenge.

“They looked like they belonged,” head coach Mike Burns said. “There wasn’t any intimidation.”

Jaciuk turned in a solid performance — placing 13th on still rings, tying for 22nd on parallel bars and tying for 19th on high bar.

“It was a lot of fun,” Jaciuk said. “There’s always some stuff you could’ve done better, but for the most part, I’m really happy with my performance.”

Mannon took home some hardware after he placed second on the pommel horse with a score of 28.25. The junior also placed 19th in the all-around competition.

“It’s a great experience being out in Las Vegas competing against the Olympians,” Mannon said.

The Gophers placed well in the competition despite stiff competition. Jaciuk and Mannon said they were pretty familiar with a lot of the

“I know most of those guys, so it’s not as intimidating,” Jaciuk said. “You have fun out there, they support you [and] you support them.”

Burns was satisfied with the way the two gymnasts represented the Minnesota program.

“We’re on a pretty huge national platform,” Burns said. “Steve and Ellis did a great job this weekend.”

The Gophers return to team competition next week and will face off against Penn State in University Park, Pa.

“As we head to Happy Valley,” Burns said, “[we’ll] try to make that valley a little less happy for [Penn State] next week.”

Women earn season-high score

The Gophers had a busy weekend with two meets in three days, but they still produced two quality performances.

It started Friday in Ames, Iowa, where the Gophers produced their best score of the season with a 196.525.

Minnesota head coach Meg Stephenson said the high score didn’t surprise her.

“I really feel like we’re worth that score.” Stephenson said.

Minnesota faced adversity with an elongated trip to and from Iowa because of the snowstorm.

The Gophers received a lift Friday night with the return of junior Jenny Covers, who was previously out with an illness.

“It was the first time I felt actually good,” Covers said. “I had been feeling sick, so it was really nice to get back out there.”

After their performance, the Gophers didn’t arrive back in the Twin Cities until 3 a.m. Saturday.

While a quick turnaround can be taxing on some athletes, junior Cierra Tomson said she actually liked the back-to-back competition format.

“When you go Friday and then you get all the jitters out … you don’t feel as nervous,” Tomson said.

Minnesota capped off its weekend with another solid performance at home Sunday with an overall team score of 196.15.