Injuries drop U men

David La

So far this season, the Gophers men’s gymnastics team has excelled in the all-around — all-around injuries, that is.
Finishing fifth out of six teams at the New Mexico Invitational meant Minnesota could once again breathe a sigh of relief that the team was at least able to compete.
“It was pretty dismal all-around,” assistant coach Thom Glielmi said. “We’re trying to field a team of walking wounded.”
The New Mexico Invitational, won by No. 6 Oklahoma, did not score individual performances for placing, only team totals. The Gophers finished with 215.45 points.
The lone highlight was their score of 37.8 in the pommel horse event, which was the second-highest event score. Leading the way on the horse was freshman Justin Lecher, with a score of 9.75.
While he had a nondescript weekend on the pommel horse, senior Jason Krob has been injury-free and is looking forward to his team following his lead.
“The things we’re trying to focus on are hitting our routines,” Krob said. “We’re focusing on what we can control.”
While Krob is doing his best to keep up morale, the inability to limit injury has been the cause of frustration for Lindsey Fang. The junior all-arounder is suffering from a stress fracture in his back and will be forced to write off competing for the remainder of this season.
“If I go in (the gym), I can’t do anything,” Fang said of why he doesn’t frequent team practices. “I feel lousy about not being able to contribute.”
In collegiate gymnastics, teams are allowed to count four athletes’ scores in any event, usually selecting the top four scores out of five or six competitors. A shortage of available competitors has had a negative effect on the Gophers’ scores this season.
“Some events we could only put four athletes up, which means you have to score them all,” Glielmi said. “The other teams are putting six (athletes) up, giving them leeway of two athletes.”
While injuries are impartial to where the athlete is performing, Minnesota is looking forward to its first meet at the Sports Pavilion since Feb. 6. The Gophers take on Michigan State Mar. 9, then have 12 days in which to get healthy before going to the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Minnesota won their only meet last season versus Illinois-Chicago, and a victory this season would be a springboard to the Big Ten championships.
“It does factor as far as morale goes,” junior Ryan Winterbourne said of the consistent team losses.
But gymnastics is also an individual scoring sport, giving the Gophers something to go on during an otherwise frustrating season.
“They are improving with each competition,” Glielmi said of his gymnasts. “Our goal is to finish in the middle-of-the pack (in the Big Ten) due to injuries this year.”