Pochinka keeps his balance

The neuroscience major is ranked No. 4 in the vault via roadtonationals.com.

Jack White

Studying neuroscience at a university or competing as a Division
I athlete could be strenuous tasks for any student.

Junior Yaroslav Pochinka excels at both.

Pochinka, who is studying neuroscience with a minor in psychology,
was named Academic All-Big Ten last season and is currently ranked No. 4 in the
vault via roadtonationals.com.

“[In high school] I was practicing six to eight hours per day, so
I kind of just learned from there, how to balance everything,” Pochinka said.

Pochinka said his plan after college is to go into a graduate
program at the university.

“Whether it’s medical school or research or a combination — I’ll
be figuring that out later.”

Pochinka also took the Medical College Admission Test during his
time as a Division I gymnast.

He said he had a full month of preparation for the test.

“Without any other distractions, and that’s it,” Pochinka said.

For the Gophers, Pochinka’s best event is the vault. He placed
first in that event, scoring a 14.750, at the team’s meet against Nebraska and
the University of Minnesota club team. He averages 14.833 for that event as of
Feb. 4.

The junior leads the way for Minnesota in one of its best events.
The Gophers have posted season bests in the vault in two consecutive meets, and
both times, Pochinka has finished first among Gophers. Pochinka tallied a 14.95
in the team’s most recent matchup. He is averaging 14.833 in the event heading
into the Gophers’ most recent meet against Iowa and Oklahoma.

The three gymnasts who rank ahead of Pochinka on the vault all
compete for No. 1 Oklahoma. The Gophers fell to the Sooners in the team’s most
recent meet, but Pochinka tied one of the gymnasts ranked ahead of him in the

Pochinka has made the lineup in three different events this
season: the floor, the rings and the vault. He has yet to score under 13.000 in
any of those events.

Fellow junior Shashank Yallamraju said Pochinka and him work on
the rings together.

“He’s been kind of like a partner that I can like push up to, try
and get on the same level” Shashank said. “He posts the same scores as I do, so
it’s nice to talk to him about that.”

Pochinka is ranked No. 20 in the country for still rings via road
to nationals.com. He is averaging 13.817 in the event.

Minnesota finished in sixth place in the NCAA Championships, and
Pochinka posted a 14.100 in the vault during the competition.

Pochinka’s performance in and outside of the gym helped him earn
the Elite 90 Award — an award given to an athlete with the highest cumulative
GPA at the finals site of an NCAA sport.

 Pochinka, as a junior, is
one of the more experienced gymnasts on the team, because Minnesota only has
two seniors on its roster.

Head coach Mike Burns said it’s hard for Pochinka to impart his
ability on someone else because of his power.

“A lot of the guys just look at him and go, ‘dang, how did he do
that,’” Burns said.