Gymnasts outdone

by Kent Erdahl

The junior and senior leaders of Minnesota’s men’s gymnastics team did their best to vault the Gophers past Iowa in the national rankings Saturday, but their strong performances failed to affect the entire team.

The ninth-ranked Gophers fell to the seventh-ranked Hawkeyes 215.600-212.700 at the Sports Pavilion despite winning four of the six individual titles and posting a season-best score.

Minnesota junior Guillermo Alvarez had the most dominant performance of the night, winning the all-around title with a score of 54.775. Alvarez finished in the top five of all six events and won the floor exercise and the vault with marks of 9.425 and 9.40, respectively.

“This was my best meet of the season,” Alvarez said. “I just pulled it all together.”

Alvarez’s performance also impressed head coach Fred Roethlisberger.

“He was attacking it tonight,” Roethlisberger said. “And that’s what he needs to do.”

Seniors Mitch Griffin and Gabe Suarez won the other two individual titles for the Gophers. Suarez tied for the top score on the still rings with a 9.350, and Griffin took the parallel bars with a mark of 8.975.

Although the Minnesota upperclassmen excelled, the team lacked consistently high scores, which Roethlisberger said need to come from freshman all-around competitors Jake Lee and Steve Vuong.

“They’re extremely skilled too, but they just didn’t put it together today,” Roethlisberger said. “We don’t have depth and that makes it precarious and puts a lot of pressure on those guys.”

Despite their performances, Roethlisberger remains optimistic about his freshmen.

“I’ve just got to keep the faith in those two guys,” he said. “For the Big Tens, I have to believe they’re going to hit.”

With one more dual remaining before the conference championships, Griffin said he likes the direction the team is moving in.

“It was a lot better,” Griffin said. “We still need to do a few things better, but we’re getting there and we’ll be ready to take it to Big Tens.”

Women drop a pair

Minnesota’s women’s gymnastics lost duals to Iowa and Iowa State over the weekend.

The Gophers lost by less than a point to the Hawkeyes on Friday, 196.025-195.750, in Iowa City, Iowa.

Laura Johnson and Mary Skokut performed well on the uneven bars for Minnesota, finishing second and third with marks of 9.875 and 9.850, respectively. The Gophers failed to win any of the four individual titles.

On Sunday, Minnesota traveled to Ames, Iowa and fell to No. 6 Iowa State, 197.625-195.650.

Skokut placed second in the uneven bars and balance beam with a pair of 9.90 scores, but again the Gophers were without an individual title.