Men’s gymnasts win first meet of the year

by Michael Dougherty

Senior George Beatty showed that he knows how to go out with style, as he took two titles and set a career high on the pommel horse leading the 14th-ranked Gophers men’s gymnasts to their first dual meet victory of the season on Saturday against the University of Illinois-Chicago.
In his last meet at home as a Gopher, Beatty won the pommel horse with a 9.775, and the parallel bars with a 9.65.
Minnesota doused the Flames by setting or tying 13 career highs, en route to a season-high team score of 224.1, topping the 222.9 it set against Iowa last Sunday.
All season long, head coach Fred Roethlisberger has tried to improve his squad’s routines on two events — the still rings and the floor exercise. The team responded on Saturday by scoring a season-high 37.0 on the rings and a 37.35 on the floor, which was .04 below their season high.
Despite his team’s progress in those two events, Roethlisberger is not completely satisfied.
“We showed a lot of improvement, but we still had a lot of mistakes that cost us a number of points, especially on the parallel bars,” Roethlisberger said.
Although the Gophers scored well on the floor, Roethlisberger was disappointed with Beatty’s and sophomore Lindsey Fang’s floor exercises. Beatty agreed with his coach.
“Everybody did pretty good, but there were a few gaps,” Beatty said. “I would have liked to have gotten a better score on the floor.”
Roethlisberger’s disappointment with Beatty and Fang aside, the two carried the team in their strongest event — the pommel horse.
Ranked fourth in the nation on the pommel horse, the Gophers outscored the Flames 38.125-35.4, as Beatty and Fang captured first and second, respectively.
Even though those two stumbled on the floor, sophomore Ryan Winterbourne set one of those career highs with his 9.5, good enough for the title. He also took second on the rings with a 9.45, and third on the parallel bars with a 9.4.
Also doing well for the Gophers was sophomore Chad Conner, who took first place on the high bar with a career-high 9.45.
Freshman walk-on Bob Goss continued his impressive improvement as he recorded career highs on the vault and the floor exercise. His 9.575 on the vault gave him second place.
Junior Matt Kieffer set a career high of 9.3, as he took third place on the still rings.
The Gophers will take a week off before traveling to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the Big Ten Championships on March 20-21, and Roethlisberger said he feels his team is coming together at the right time.
“As long as we’ve got this improvement over the last three meets, I’m pretty optimistic that we can be in the top half of the Big Ten,” he said.
In his 27th year at Minnesota, Roethlisberger has never finished in the bottom half of the conference, and that is a streak he would like to continue.
“I think we can surprise some people at the Big Ten meet. That’s the whole idea,” he said.