Gophers defeat Air Force for first road victory

Minnesota finished with the best vault score in the NCAA this season.

Justin Karstadt competes on the parallel bars against Penn State at the Sports Pavilion on Jan. 23, 2016.

Maddy Fox, Daily File Photo

Justin Karstadt competes on the parallel bars against Penn State at the Sports Pavilion on Jan. 23, 2016.

by Erik Nelson

After losing the Windy City Invitational, Minnesota (2-1, 2-1 Big Ten) looked for its first victory in an away meet on Saturday.

They won and in the process, the Gophers posted the second-highest score in the NCAA, including the best vault score.

The Gophers defeated Air Force 413.250-400.450 on Saturday afternoon in Colorado Springs. 

Head coach Mike Burns said he was pleased with Minnesota’s performance.

“To put ourselves in the realm of the top scores in the country was satisfying for us,” Burns said.

Minnesota gymnasts won five event titles. Junior Justin Karstadt won the pommel horse event, earning a score of 13.900. Senior Luke Aldrich won the floor title, receiving a score of 14.300. Senior Tristan Duran won the high bar, receiving a score of 14.400.

Burns said he wanted his team to carry the energy from its meet against Iowa last week to Colorado Springs.

“That’s never an easy thing to do because the energy we had last week was due to our home crowd,” Burns said. “You got to stay together as a team. You got to stay engaged and focused and tap in to your teammates because that’s where your energy is going to come from.”

Vault was Minnesota’s best event. The Gophers registered a score of 73.000. Senior Yaroslav Pochinka finished first with a score of 14.950. Burns said parallel bars was Minnesota’s best event, even though the team had a higher score on vault. 

Freshman Shane Wiskus finished first in the parallel bars event, earning a score of 14.400.

“They were able to fight through some tough spots and kept getting better as the event wore on,” Burns said. “It was our last event of the day. To have a great performance to finish the day was satisfying. You always want to finish the meet to the end.”

Minnesota will host Illinois (4-0, 3-0 Big Ten) on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Burns said he wants the team to improve their scores and not miss routines against their undefeated opponent.

“We’re going to need everybody to bring their A-game on Saturday,” Burns said. “Illinois is a tough team and they’ll be a good challenge for us.”