Top-ranked Illini outpace Minnesota

However, Illinois’ margin of victory over the Gophers was smaller than at last weekend’s Windy City Invitational

Freshman Steffen Beck  hangs from the rings on Saturday during a men’s gymnastics meet against Illinois at the Sports Pavillion.

Freshman Steffen Beck hangs from the rings on Saturday during a men’s gymnastics meet against Illinois at the Sports Pavillion.

John Hageman

 

For the Minnesota menâÄôs gymnastics team, itâÄôs all about the process.

A week after a 15-point loss to No. 1 Illinois at the Windy City Invitational, the No. 7 Gophers lost by just seven to the same squad in their first home meet of the season at the Sports Pavilion Saturday night.

The Illini finished with 351.5 to the GophersâÄô 344.1. No. 11 Nebraska rounded out the field with a score of 333.1.

Illinois is âÄúextremely strong, but we closed the gap against them so I like the fact that weâÄôre moving in against them,âÄù Minnesota head coach Mike Burns said.

The Gophers had their high points. A solid performance on the vault sent the team and the crowd into an impromptu rendition of the Rouser, and Minnesota turned in the best team vault score of the night.

But that excitement quickly dissipated after the Gophers stumbled on the parallel bars and rings. They bounced back on the high bar and entering the final event were down by just .7, but the Illini saved the vault âÄî an inherently high-scoring event âÄî for last, and sealed the win.

âÄúI feel like we were almost a little too energetic coming in from the vault,âÄù junior Adam LaFleur said. âÄúA few little things here and there were a little off and it just caught up with us.âÄù

Though the Gophers couldnâÄôt top Illinois for the second straight week, they had several individual highlights.

Junior DJ Repp, the only athlete to compete in every event for the Gophers, tallied a career-high 16.1 on the vault. Freshman John Scallon turned in a team-best 14.9 on the pommel horse, sending his teammates and coach into a frenzy upon his dismount.

Because the Gophers graduated eight seniors last season, Burns said his team will be looking for performances from youngsters like Scallon this year.

âÄúThe new guys that have come in âĦ they are really starting to step up and define this team,âÄù Burns said. âÄúTheyâÄôre a huge part of our success at this point.âÄù