Gymnasts mark anniversary with upset of Illinois

Sam Campanaro

MAlumni filled the crowd to watch and find out what their team has become.

Minnesota did it right with an upset over the third-ranked Illini, 208.45 to 206.80.

“Illinois was very generous to us today,” coach Fred Roethlisberger said. “They made a lot of mistakes today and we were fortunate; we did a pretty good job with what we had.”

Roethlisberger said emotions were running high, especially on this 100-year anniversary weekend, and the alumni were watching closely.

“It’s never how many people that are in the audience, it’s who’s in the audience,” Roethlisberger said. “You feel more nervous in front of your friends and parents than you do a big crowd.”

If Roethlisberger was feeling nervous, he might have been the only one. The Minnesota athletes had a spark in their eyes and a little more motivation to perform their best.

“It was a big inspiration for us,” Clinton Mays said. “It makes it easier to perform with guys from the 30s and 40s here.”

And inspired Mays was. After missing his triple back dismount on the still rings, he proceeded to stick his landing on the high bar.

“I felt bad after missing on the rings,” he said. “I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to do it right this time.’ “

Mays was the first Gopher to compete in their last event, the horizontal bar. His excellent routine helped motivate the rest of the team to finish strong.

Mays said he told his teammates, “I did my job, now you do yours.”

The Gopher’s routines weren’t flawless, but every time a man struggled, a teammate was there to cheer him on and give him a little extra strength to perform.

Senior Clay Strother, a two-time NCAA champion on the pommel horse and floor exercise, continued to stand out as one of the top gymnasts in the nation.

On Saturday, Strother won the individual titles on the floor

exercise, vault and parallel bars and tied for first place with Illinois’ Scott Wetterling on the still rings.

“I can improve on high bar and had a fall on pommel horse, Strother said. “Some things just weren’t my best, but it’s the beginning of the season and we’re trying to get all the kinks out.”

Sam Campanaro welcomes comments at [email protected]