Karstadt headed south to Gophers

The freshman is one of two Canadians on the roster this year with Joel Gagnon.

Freshman Justin Karstadt concentrates during his performance on the pommel horse at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday.

Sam Harper, Daily File Photo

Freshman Justin Karstadt concentrates during his performance on the pommel horse at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday.

Thomas Jaakola

The Gophers men’s gymnastics team turned to Canada the last two years when looking for talent and came away with two gymnasts from north of the border.
 
 
The latest is freshman Justin Karstadt, a Toronto native who is already competing in the all-around for the team and showed promise on the pommel horse.
 
 
Karstadt narrowed his college options down to Minnesota and Penn State before deciding and said he has no regrets about his choice. Minnesota faced the Nittany Lions in its second competition of the season on Jan. 23 and won 432.750-418.500.
 
 
“I felt that our roster was really young and figured we’re going to be on the up,” Karstadt said. “I really like the team as a whole. Everyone has each other’s backs.”
 
 
Karstadt won his first individual title on the pommel horse against Penn State. He scored a 14.900 and was 0.800 points higher than the event’s runner-up, Gophers senior Paul Montague Jr.
 
 
The rookie scored a 15.050 on vault in the team’s next meet against Nebraska to win another event title.
 
“He’s a very good all-arounder [and] a very good competitor,” assistant coach Russ Fystrom said. “He’s a quality gymnast.”
 
 
Karstadt competed in the all-around in the Gophers’ first meet of the year, the Windy City Invitational. He tied for seventh in the event at the six-team meet with a score of 82.250.
 
 
He improved by more than two-and-a-half points in the event a week later, scoring an 84.800 to take second against Penn State.
 
 
“He has potential to score well. His pommel horse is probably his best event, and he’s already at a high level there,” head coach Mike Burns said. “He could be a Big Ten finalist and an NCAA finalist on pommel horse.”
 
 
Karstadt said one of his goals as a gymnast is to win a Big Ten championship but said his first collegiate season has been up and down so far. 
 
 
“I’ll have a few events that will be really great but some that I have trouble on,” Karstadt said. “So I haven’t had a complete performance yet, but that’s all a part of the process, and I think that’s setting me up for good things in the future when I can produce more consistent performances.”
 
 
The freshman said he hopes to compete for Canada in the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
 
 
Before that, he’ll try to help the No. 4 Gophers defeat their third top-10 opponent in a row this weekend at Air Force.
 
 
“He’s a very polished gymnast already as a freshman. That’s a hard thing to come by,” Burns said. “He’s a clean gymnast. … He’s going to be a good one.”