After the first four competitors for Minnesota’s men’s gymnastics team fell off the pommel horse, seniors Clinton Mays and Guillermo Alvarez knew something had to be done.
“Before Clinton and I went, he came up to me and said, ‘It’s all us, we’ve got to get it rolling,’ ” Alvarez said. “That got me motivated.”
Mays and Alvarez both hit their routines, sparking the ninth-ranked Gophers to their best team score of the year and a 216.050-215.925 upset of No. 3 Michigan on Saturday at the Sports Pavilion.
Minnesota trailed by just more than half a point going into the high bar, its final event. Four Gophers posted scores of 9.000 or better to clinch the meet.
“(The high bar team) could have done what they did, which was great, or they could have struggled,” said first-year Gophers coach Mike Burns, who was an assistant at Michigan from 1997 until last season. “They dug down deep and found the courage to not let the No. 3 team in the country intimidate them.”
Alvarez had a career meet for Minnesota less than a week after being named to the U.S. National Team, easily winning the all-around with a score of 55.400. He also won the floor exercise with a score of 9.625, the pommel horse (9.650) and the vault (9.500).
Mays and Kyle True were also event winners for the Gophers. Mays won the still rings with a score of 9.650, and True tied for first with Michigan’s Chris Gatti on the high bar, scoring a 9.250.
Geoff Corrigan won the only event for the Wolverines, scoring a 9.400 on the parallel bars.
Despite defeating Michigan with their best score of the season, the Gophers said they felt there are still holes to fill in their performances before they compete at bigger meets.
“I think we can hit way more routines with pommel horse starting off really rough (Saturday),” Mays said. “We’ve still got a lot of room to improve.”
Burns said Minnesota rested several gymnasts with minor injuries and did not have its strongest lineup competing. The team’s start values will increase when everyone is healthy, which he said will likely improve the team score.
Overall, he said, the Gophers have a way to go – especially on the pommel horse – before they will be able to consistently compete with the top teams in the nation.
“If we stay on the pommel horse, we’re a darned good team,” he said. “We gave away two points. You give away two points, you’re not going to stick with the big boys.”
Women win home meet
Minnesota’s women’s gymnastics team easily won the Best of Minnesota meet Saturday at the Sports Pavilion.
The Gophers scored 194.425, followed by Hamline and Gustavus Adolphus, which scored 182.475 and 178.000, respectively.
“I think all of us were disappointed in our beam performance, which is difficult because we had some people that did their best routines all year,” co-coach Meg Stephenson said. “It’s just unfortunate when you can’t put it all together at once.”
Ashley Mutchler and Ashley Stanton each earned career highs on the balance beam and tied for first with a score of 9.825.
Carolyn Yernberg won both the vault and floor exercise with scores of 9.825 and 9.900, respectively.