Gophers finish season with solid showing

Minnesota advanced to the finals at the NCAA Championship, placing sixth overall.

Mark Heise

The goal was steady improvement for the Minnesota men’s gymnastics team.

The Gophers posted their highest score of the season Thursday, earning a 216.9 to send them into the finals Friday, where they improved yet again, finishing with a 217.15 to place 6th at the NCAA Championship.

Minnesota started the qualifying meet on its two weakest events, but pulled strong scores from both the pommel horse and the still rings.

Senior Jake Lee started the Gophers off with an 8.75 score on pommel horse, helping guide the team to a score of 34.4 on the event.

Minnesota showed definite improvement on the rings, as junior Mitchell Mays scored 9.45 points and Lee added 9.25, giving the Gophers a total of 36.75 in the event.

On vault, the team totaled a 36.05. And when freshman Andre Berry nailed his vault to earn a 9.4, it energized the entire team.

“We have a really strong vaulting team, and we’re pretty diverse, as opposed to the teams with the same cookie-cutter vault,” freshman Cole Storer said. “And when Andre hit his vault, everyone went crazy. That was probably what turned that meet around.”

Lee and junior Sergei Dmitriev put up quality scores on the parallel bars, posting 9.4 and 9.2, respectively, and sending the team to a 35.6 score on the event.

The Gophers followed that up with one of their strongest high bar performances, putting up 36.6 points to lead Cal-Berkley for third place by just a tenth of a point, with one event remaining.

With the team’s hopes of reaching the finals hanging on the floor exercise, Storer pulled out a 9.65, helping the Gophers to an impressive 37.5 score and sending them into the team finals, beating Cal-Berkley by 0.35.

“Beating out Cal-Berkley was a huge accomplishment,” Burns said. “They’re an extremely good team. We were just a little bit better that night, and it was a great feeling to be able to knock them out and push ourselves into the finals.”

In the finals, Minnesota improved its scores on floor, parallel bars and the high bar. Redshirt freshman Adam Reichow continued to improve on his floor routine, notching a 9.7 to lead the Gophers to a season-high floor score of 38.15. The Gophers also posted a season-high on the high bar with a score of 36.7.

Overall, the team finished sixth of the six teams in the finals.

“It was definitely a step forward for this program,” senior Kevin Green said. “Finishing sixth should build a lot of confidence for next year. This program is headed in the right direction.”