Mannon places second on pommel horse at NCAAs

The Gophers finished eighth out of 12 teams at the NCAA championships.

Minnesotas Ellis Mannon performs his parallel bars routine Saturday, March 2, 2013, at the Sports Pavilion.

Image by Jaak Jensen, Daily File Photo

Minnesota’s Ellis Mannon performs his parallel bars routine Saturday, March 2, 2013, at the Sports Pavilion.

by Nickalas Tabbert

Gophers sophomore gymnast Ellis Mannon finished second in the pommel horse finals Sunday at the NCAA championships in University Park, Pa.

Mannon scored 14.9 on the apparatus to take the lead, but Ohio State’s Michael Newburger stepped up next and won the title with a score of 15.45.

“He deserved to win for sure,” Mannon said of Newburger, “but I was very happy with what I did, and I feel like I left it all out on the floor.”

Mannon, who was named an All-American, was the only Gophers gymnast to compete Sunday at Rec Hall. Five other gymnasts competed Saturday on four events but failed to advance.

Coach Mike Burns said Mannon had a few problems with his routine but performed well overall.

“It was a great effort,” Burns said.

Mannon had the highest score on pommel horse in Minnesota’s qualifying session Friday. The Gophers finished fourth out of six teams, one place short of advancing to the team finals. Minnesota finished eighth overall, achieving the same result as last year.

Michigan won the session Friday and the team title Saturday. Oklahoma and Illinois also finished ahead of Minnesota on Friday to advance.

Burns said it was “bittersweet” to not advance to the team finals, but he said he was proud of the individual efforts his gymnasts showed during the weekend.

Minnesota struggled on pommel horse, its worst event this season. The Gophers’ score of 65.85 was the lowest at the session and the team’s second-lowest score on the event this season.

“The wheel fell off the cart on pommel horse,” Burns said Friday.

The Gophers had two gymnasts fall off the apparatus while performing, and only Mannon’s routine was clean, Burns said.

Mannon “righted the ship,” Burns said, but Minnesota fell behind Illinois after the rotation.

The Gophers finished the meet with a strong showing on still rings, but they were unable to close the gap with the Illini.

The team’s best event was the one leading up to pommel horse. Minnesota scored 73.8 on floor exercise, its best since Feb. 16 against Oklahoma.

Three of Minnesota’s five gymnasts — junior Justin Morinishi, sophomore Sean Bauer and junior Matt Frey — scored well enough to advance to Saturday’s

“They were outstanding,” Burns said. “That was a great moment when all three of those guys went up and hit.”

But whatever momentum the team had built up after the event quickly disappeared on pommel horse, Burns said.

“It was amazing the amplitude swing in emotion,” he said.