Strother and Alvarez potent one-two punch at NCAA meet

Sam Campanaro

Clay Strother is returning to the gymnastics meet where, as a sophomore, he won his first two national championships.

Guillermo Alvarez is a sophomore going to a gymnastics meet trying to win his first NCAA title.

Now a senior, Strother will try to defend his four national championships at Temple University in Pennsylvania today and through the weekend.

Alvarez will be one of the gymnasts who will make defending titles difficult for Strother.

Alvarez’s career could turn out to be similar to Strother’s. The parallels lie in the two men’s event strengths and their personalities in the gym.

It’s not a question that the two men will be top competitors at the meet or on which events. It’s who will be the one to get the title.

Strother and Alvarez have been all-around competitors throughout their careers and excel on similar events. Floor, vault and pommel horse are the top three events for both men.

At the Big Ten championships, Alvarez took second place to Strother on floor by only .5 points. Strother was able to complete his list of titles in his senior season with the Big Ten floor title.

Strother has also scored better more times on floor, vault and in the all-around competition this season. However, Alvarez holds the winning record between the two on pommel horse.

Both Strother and Alvarez also earned Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors twice this season.

Training together has given these two an edge. They are in the gym every day with a person they know to be one of the best. It pushes them to be innovative with their routines, diligent in their training and friends with a competitor.

The success Strother and Alvarez have seen this season has promoted the excellence of the Minnesota gymnastics program and the

development of a strong supporting cast.

It’s the achievement of all of the gymnasts which earned the Gophers a seventh-place national ranking, a fifth-place finish at Big Tens and a bid to the NCAA championship meet this weekend.

Only three teams are allowed to qualify for event finals this weekend, and all seven Big Ten teams will be competing to represent their conference in the final round. It is likely to see Ohio State or Penn State as the Big Ten qualifier.

However, competitors can qualify on individual events, and more representatives from the Big Ten are liable show up to claim event titles.

Strother and Alvarez are the assumed candidates Minnesota will have in individual event finals.

Strother is trying to maintain his record and Alvarez is trying to establish one. As each other’s competition, it will make for a Minnesota challenge at the meet.

Sam Campanaro welcomes comments at [email protected]