Mannon qualifies for the P&G Gymnastics Championships

Gophers senior gymnast Ellis Mannon competed at the 2014 men’s national qualifier last weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Minnesota's gymnast Ellis Mannon performs his parallel bars routine March 2, 2013, at the Sports Pavilion.

Jaak Jensen, Daily File Photo

Minnesota’s gymnast Ellis Mannon performs his parallel bars routine March 2, 2013, at the Sports Pavilion.

Joe Perovich

For many athletes, summer brings a few months of development and the absence of competition. But timelines vary, and for some it’s the time of year to be at the peak of their game.

That includes rising senior gymnast and 2014 NCAA pommel horse champion Ellis Mannon, who competed at the 2014 men’s national qualifier last weekend in Colorado Springs, Colo.

He placed eighth overall and submitted top-10 finishes in three events — pommel horse, parallel bars and vault.

Mannon’s specialty is pommel horse, but his versatility was on display as he recorded his best mark on vault.

“I think I surprised a lot of people, including myself,” Mannon said. “I really was totally on from start to finish. People were kind of watching me like, ‘Man, that’s a really great routine. I haven’t seen Ellis do that before.’”

Mannon’s overseers in Colorado, Gophers head coach Mike Burns and assistant coach Russ Fystrom, said they didn’t see something new from Mannon. Instead, they witnessed something they always knew he was capable of.

“His entire performance just sort of flowed. As a coach and as an athlete, you hope that you go to a competition and things flow effortlessly, and that’s kind of how it was,” Burns said. “It doesn’t always happen that way — [walking] away from something like that, and everybody’s got big smiles on their faces.”

Mannon attributed his showing to an extra boost of energy.

“I’ve been pretty busy outside of the last couple of days,” he said. “I got some extra sleep [in Colorado]. I think that really helped. It took some of the stress out of it.”

Fystrom said Mannon is the type of gymnast who will perform at the level he has prepared for, regardless of pressure.

“Every athlete gets nervous, but not everybody understands how to control it,” he said. “Ellis does.”

For the 86 athletes from 30 states that competed, the event represented the final opportunity to qualify for the 2014 P&G Gymnastics Championships in Pittsburgh, which will be Aug. 21-24. Only 14 of the 86 competitors qualified for the
championships.

But there are numerous ways to qualify for the senior division at the 2014 P&G championships. In total, an estimated 36
senior men qualifiers will compete in Pittsburgh.

Mannon will be in attendance, trying to carry over the confidence that characterized his performance in Colorado.

His training leading up to the event won’t be different than before, as he said the current formula worked pretty well in Colorado.

“[At P&G championships] I don’t have any expectations of going out there and being an all-around champion. There are several Olympians more qualified to do that than I am,” Mannon said. “But if I could stay in the top 20 all-around, that would be my main goal.”