Gophers bounce back on senior night

Minnesota defeated Iowa and Brockport in the final home meet of the season.

Minnesota junior Steve Jaciuk competes on the still rings at a meet against Iowa and Brockport at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday night. Saturday night was also senior night for the Men's Gymnastics Team.

Lisa Persson

Minnesota junior Steve Jaciuk competes on the still rings at a meet against Iowa and Brockport at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday night. Saturday night was also senior night for the Men’s Gymnastics Team.

David Nelson

The Gophers men’s gymnastics team entered senior night at the Sports Pavilion fresh off a disappointing loss to Penn State.

Minnesota rebounded in a big way with a victory over Iowa and Brockport on Saturday — the team’s fourth first-place finish of the season.

The Gophers finished with 427.75 points. Iowa was close behind with 426.45, and Brockport was a distant third with 184.7.

“In the last event, [Iowa] almost pulled it off, so it was nerve-racking,” Minnesota head coach Mike Burns said. “We hung on, though.”

Burns said he thought the team looked a lot better Saturday than it did the week ago.

“It was a better performance overall,” he said.

Gophers senior Justin Morinishi said after the match that it still hadn’t hit him that he and the other seven seniors on the roster would never compete in the Sports Pavilion again.

“I love these guys,” he said. “It’s a good feeling, but it’s also bittersweet.”

While the night honored the senior class, junior Ellis Mannon stood out for the Gophers.

Mannon competed in four of six events for Minnesota, scoring a 14.6 or higher in each event.

“He’s our go-to guy,” Burns said. “He’s been having a little inconsistency in some areas, but he really put it together tonight. It was good to see him back on track.”

Gophers take second at Texas

After putting up a season-high score last weekend, the Gophers traveled to Texas for a quad meet with Oklahoma, Michigan State and Texas Woman’s University.

Minnesota battled and came away with a second-place finish, scoring 196.275.

“It was incredibly loud in there,” head coach Meg Stephenson said. “That was a great experience for us because it’s going to be loud in the postseason.”

That meet served as a homecoming of sorts for senior Justine Cherwink. Cherwink, an Aledo, Texas, native, got to perform in front of her family and friends.

“It was fun for her to be home,” Stephenson said. “The crowd went crazy when they heard she was from Texas and she did a really nice job.”

The Gophers faced some adversity on floor exercise when Minnesota junior Kylie Schermann sustained an injury during warm-ups and didn’t compete as a precaution.

“Jenny [Covers] was doing exhibition floor for us, so we put her in,” Stephenson said. “It was great to see her do such a clean routine and score so well. We are really as good as our bench.”

Gophers freshman Rachel Haines had her own high scores at the meet, earning season-high scores on vault and balance beam.

“It was really exciting,” Haines said. “We were all really motivated to do our best. … I felt blessed to contribute to that.”