Three men’s gymnasts to salvage season at NCAAs

Susan Filkins

The Gophers men’s gymnastics practice room did not look quite the same last week. The strip of the floor exercise, usually covered with gymnasts doing tumbling passes, was being replaced. Across the gym, the still rings were knotted up and the parallel bars were left unchalked.
For most of the gymnasts, the season is over. The quiet and empty Cooke Hall Gym was strong evidence of this.
Two weeks ago, practice was buzzing with excitement after the Gophers’ final team ranking left them seventh in the country heading in to NCAA East Regionals at West Point, N.Y. The expectation was for Minnesota to have an outside chance to qualify for the NCAA championships.
The outcome was not pretty.
Not only did the Gophers not qualify for NCAAs this weekend in Iowa City, Iowa, but they finished in a dismal fifth place out of six teams.
But not all of the Gophers will have to stay home this weekend. Three members of the team will get an opportunity to qualify in the individual events competition beginning tonight.
Senior Frank Ticknor will have one last chance to compete in a Gophers uniform before retiring it. He scored a 9.7 in the vault at regionals, which was good enough to qualify him for nationals in the event.
After having a somewhat disappointing season, junior George Beatty will get one last chance at redemption. He scored a 9.625 in the pommel horse at regionals, allowing him to perform on the apparatus one last time at nationals.
Sophomore Jason Krob will also get a chance to live out one of his goals for the season. The pommel horse specialist scored a 9.675 in the event, qualifying him for the national meet as well.
Despite the fact these three Gophers will get one last chance to compete, the mood surrounding the meet has been somber for the most part.
“The only word I can describe it as is anti-climatic,” Krob said. “The whole year you work for making nationals and, well, it kind of sucks.”
Beatty agreed with his teammate but did not hide the fact he is still excited.
“It’s better than not qualifying for nationals at all,” Beatty said. “I am pretty psyched to go, and I’m glad I’m not the only one that is going.”
Beatty did not think his score would be high enough to advance to nationals. When the lineup was announced for individuals who qualified in the pommel horse at the end of the regional competition, Beatty said he was more relieved than happy.
“We kind of half-expected to make it as a team, but we didn’t,” Beatty said. “I wanted to go anyway, so I was just thinking, ‘Come on. I’ve got to make it somehow.'”
Ticknor is the only one of the three who has competed in the national meet before. In 1995, he qualified for the individual competition in the high bar. Ticknor said he was a little disappointed he did not qualify in more events, but admitted he was still excited to finish the year on the national stage.
The team competition at nationals will begin tonight as well as the groups of individuals who will compete in single events.
Leading the way at nationals is No. 1 Ohio State. Also representing the Big Ten is Iowa and Penn State. They will be joined by powerhouse schools like Stanford, California–Berkeley and Oklahoma.
The Gophers will likely chalk this season up as being one of inconsistent performances that never equaled the total effort they struggled to find. That inconsistency kept them from winning more meets during the season and from qualifying for nationals.
Minnesota will be represented tonight at nationals, but not quite the way they had hoped.
“I don’t really care about individuals all that much,” Krob said. “I am going to go and do my best, but it’s not my focus. College gymnastics is really about the team, and I have gotten so used to that.”