Men hold on to win after Wokurka tears ACL

The women overpowered the Best of Minnesota Division III competition.

Gophers' sophomore Dusti Russell in action during a balance beam event Saturday at Sports Pavilion.

Gophers’ sophomore Dusti Russell in action during a balance beam event Saturday at Sports Pavilion.

Megan Ryan

 

The first rotation on rings was the only event Josh Wokurka successfully completed Saturday in Iowa City, Iowa, in the Gophers’ men’s gymnastics win against Iowa and Nebraska.

Wokurka tore his right ACL during the second rotation on his floor exercise routine. He suffered the same injury to his left knee just two years ago.

“We started on rings and did a pretty good job there, we were having a pretty decent day going on floor, and then Josh goes down,” head coach Mike Burns said. “It definitely takes the wind out of your sails when one of your guys goes down like that.”

His recovery will most likely force him out of competition for the next six months, Burns said, which means Wokurka’s junior season is over.

The Gophers retained enough composure to win the meet despite the major early injury. No. 6 Minnesota scored 340 points to No. 11 Nebraska’s 336.5 and No. 12 Iowa’s 334.5.

Kyle Banks was an important part of the win. The freshman walk-on followed Wokurka on floor and took third place.

“I kind of used it to my advantage in a way,” Banks said. “Knowing that he was out, I put more effort into the routine, doing it for him.”

Banks again picked up the slack for his team on high bar with the Gophers’ highest mark after the two routines before him scored low.

Banks also performed for the first time in competition on the vault in the alternate spot filling in for Wokurka. His 14.4 score was Minnesota’s second highest.

“[Banks] doesn’t get flustered, and he goes up and does a nice job for us,” Burns said. “He really stepped up. I can’t say enough good things about how Kyle did tonight.”

Gophers gymnasts won five out of the six apparatuses. Zack Chase won three.

Chase placed first on still rings and floor exercise. He also was in a three-way first place tie on vault with teammate Matt Frey and Nebraska’s Wyatt Baier.

Harris Coleman led the Gophers’ sweep of the pommel horse, followed by Ellis Mannon and John Scallon. Russell Dabritz tied for first place on parallel bars with Iowa’s Javier Balboa.

Women

The women’s team easily defeated Division III Hamline, Gustavus and Winona State in the Best of Minnesota meet at home Saturday.

The Gophers tallied their best team score of the season with 195.425 points. No other team came close as Winona scored 182, Hamline 177.7 and Gustavus 172.55.

“We should have won this evening. We’re competing against the ‘Best of Minnesota,’ but those are Division III teams,” head coach Meg Stephenson said. “What was more important for us was hitting our routines and getting a good score, and we did that.”

Only six gymnasts can compete on each of the four events. Minnesota swept the top six spots on vault, balance beam and uneven parallel bars. The team only took the top five on floor exercise.

The three Gophers all-around competitors also dominated the podium. Kayla Slechta led her teammates with a personal-best score of 39.2.

“It is such a great thing to get. I didn’t actually think I’d beat [my old personal best], but hearing that I did just [makes me] really happy,” Slechta said. “Now I have to set even higher [goals].”

Slechta tied in the floor exercise with teammate Dusti Russell. They scored a 9.85. Lucy Ennis earned the same score for her winning routine on bars. Shannon Golich won beam with 9.875 points. A 9.8 score proved enough for Jenny Covers to succeed on vault.

Both the men’s and women’s teams will compete at the Sports Pavilion next weekend against Nebraska.