Gophers outshine competition at home

The men’s team came away with a victory and the women fell to Illini.

Brad Bobel

Minnesota bounced back from last week’s road loss to Illinois with a first-place finish against Nebraska and the University of Illinois-Chicago on Saturday.

The Gophers finished the meet with 429.900 points followed by Nebraska and UIC.

“We made some team adjustments, and it really showed this meet,” junior Paul Montague Jr. said. “We’re much better at picking it up after a fall or slip-up.”

After a subpar pommel horse performance, the Gophers picked it up on the still rings with every gymnast scoring 14.3 or higher.

The Gophers finished the rings with a score of 73.050 as a team — their best event.

“Mitchell Soukup being our leadoff guy is what I attribute our success to,” senior Steve Jaciuk said. “He’s so solid, and it’s such a momentum builder, especially when he hits.”

Soukup started the Gophers off with a 14.3 in the event.

Minnesota closed the meet with a scare on the high bar as Jaciuk tumbled hard to the floor. He bounced up and finished the meet on a strong note, but in the moment Jaciuk wasn’t sure he’d be able to go on.

“I thought I broke all my ribs at first,” Jaciuk said. “But after I took a breather, I knew I was OK and finished my routine strong.”

Women narrowly fall at Illinois

Lindsay Mable turned out an outstanding performance at Illinois on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough as the Gophers narrowly lost 195.775-195.375.

“It was a good meet, not great. And we didn’t warm up well, but we made some definite improvements tonight,” interim head coach Jenny Hansen said.

The uneven bars were the Gopher’s worst event, as they scored a team-low 48.550 points compared to Illinois’ 49.375.

“The uneven bars were a challenge,” Hansen said. “But the other events were better. You have to work for it every weekend.”

The Gophers bounced back on the vault, scoring their highest team-event score of 49.025, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome Illinois’ lead. Mable’s 9.9 and senior Jenny Covers’ 9.875 were the top two scores of the event.

“You have to trust your training and your body,” Mable said. “You have to trust what you’ve done your whole life.”

The Gophers scored higher than the Illini on the last two events, but they couldn’t break through.

Mable tallied an event high on the floor and beam to end the meet and took home three event titles.

She also took the all-around crown with a score of 39.575. Covers placed third on the all-around, and freshman Ciara Gardner tied for fifth in her first all-around competition.

“Jenny and I are in a groove, and we know what’s working,” Mable said. “We’re building and know where the little improvements are.”