Mays proves he’s worthy of No. 1 ranking

From the very first meet of the season, Gophers senior Mitchell Mays has been ranked No. 1 nationally on the vault.

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NCAA regional championship
what: Women’s gymnastics
when: 6 p.m., Saturday
where: Sports Pavilion

On Saturday, at the Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics Event Championships, Mays proved himself more than worthy of his rank by claiming the conference crown on vault with a season-high tying score of 16.650.

“Obviously, after being ranked No. 1 all year, I think everyone in the event finals was going, ‘How are we going to beat Mitchell?’ ” Gophers head coach Mike Burns said. “The only thing everyone else could hope for is that he would beat himself, but he sure didn’t do that. It’s definitely a feather in his cap.”

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NCAA championship qualifier
what: Men’s gymnastics
when: 3 p.m., 9 p.m., Saturday
where: Stanford, Calif.

Showing a humble character, Mays said he didn’t look very often at the rankings this season, but rather focused on preparing for the Big Ten and NCAA Championships.

“It’s always good to get first place, but all of those guys were trying their best,” Mays said. “I just like to do well for the fans.”

Minnesota junior Kit Beikman placed second on the pommel horse and sophomore Cole Storer finished third on the high bar to highlight the Gophers’ Big Ten Event Championships, which were held at Penn State.

Beikmann, the 2007 Big Ten pommel horse champion, nearly defended his title by placing second with a 14.900.

“He (Beikmann) really showed his intestinal fortitude, he’s really strong internally,” Burns said of the pressure on Beikmann to repeat as pommel horse champion.

Along with Mays, sophomore Andre Berry earned a spot to compete for the vault title, and tied for ninth by scoring a 15.000.

Senior Sergei Dmitriev advanced on parallel bars and placed eighth with a score of 13.050.

Sophomore Colin McGuire joined Storer – who earned his third place finish by way of a 14.800 – on the high bar competition and finished eighth with a score of 14.050.

Men take fifth at Big Ten team competition

The Gophers were able to qualify six gymnasts for Saturday’s event finals because of their strong individual showing at the Big Ten team Championships on Friday.

The top nine gymnasts in each event on Friday moved on to the event finals on Saturday. For the Gophers, this included Mays, Beikmann, Storer, Berry, Dmitriev and McGuire.

Although it placed fifth out of six teams – including six of the nation’s top-10 men’s gymnastics squads – Minnesota eventually came within five one-hundredths (0.050) of its season-high team score, totaling 351.4 points, and stood in fourth place heading into the sixth and final rotation.

With its qualifying scores now in the past, Minnesota waits until Tuesday to find out its seeding for the 2008 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships, which will be held at Stanford on April 17-19.

“We came in ranked fifth in the Big Ten and eight in the nation, and that’s how we came out,” Burns said.