Men’s gymnast gets surprise meet invite

Michael Dougherty

After 26 years of coaching men’s gymnastics at Minnesota, Fred Roethlisberger doesn’t get surprised too often.
But he received some news this week from East Regional directors that was decidedly unexpected.
He had counted on senior George Beatty, junior Jason Krob and sophomore Lindsey Fang to qualify for the regional meet on an individual basis. He received a pleasant surprise, however, when he learned sophomore Chad Conner qualified as well.
“I hadn’t anticipated Chad making it,” Roethlisberger said.
Conner, himself, had not expected it. In fact, he quit practicing during last week because he assumed his season was over.
“I was pretty surprised, but I’m very excited,” Conner said.
Conner, who came to Minnesota from Dallas, has consistently improved his horizontal bar routine over the year, leading to his regional qualification. That he qualified in that event is somewhat surprising because he specialized on the floor exercise and the parallel bars in the past.
Even though he is happy for himself and his three teammates, Conner wishes the rest of the team could be there. Minnesota finished last in the Big Ten meet and did not qualify for the regional meet.
“It would be fun if our whole team was there,” he said. “But it will be good to go and try to qualify for the NCAAs.”
Despite all the good news that surrounds an unexpected situation like this, Roethlisberger was realistic when he said that he doesn’t think Conner has a good chance of making it to nationals.
Instead, the coach said that he thinks Fang has the best chance to qualify for the NCAA meet. Fang will perform in the all-around event.
As for Beatty and Krob, Roethlisberger again proves to be a realist.
“George and Jason have a chance, but there are a lot of people who can score as good as they do,” he said.
Freshman walk-on Bob Goss, from Kenosha, Wis., also qualified for the East Regionals, but he will not make the trip. He is ranked 25th in the East Region, but Roethlisberger said he doesn’t think it would be good for him to go.
“I want him to get back to practicing because he’s not a very good gymnast yet,” he said. “There isn’t any chance of him qualifying for nationals.”
The meet will be held in Amherst, Mass., on Saturday night. It will be the first time a Roethlisberger-led team has competed there.