Mannon paces men; women win third straight meet

Minnesota opened its men’s and women’s seasons over winter break.

by David Nelson

After finishing second on the pommel horse in last year’s NCAA individual event finals, Ellis Mannon continued his success into the start of his junior season, placing first in the individual all-around standings at the Windy City Invitational.

Mannon said he was “pleasantly surprised” by his first-place result.

“I’ve been going to Windy City since I first started gymnastics,” Mannon said. “It’s nice to go there and actually win it.”

Mannon, the only Gophers gymnast to compete in all six events in the Windy City, performed best on the pommel horse — he finished second with a 15.95.

“He went out and did six solid routines,” head coach Mike Burns said. “He didn’t score anything below a 14 and had a career best on the pommel horse.”

Unfortunately for Mannon, he ran into Ohio State senior Michael Newburger — who won the event at the NCAA tournament last season.

Newburger scored an impressive 16.25 on the pommel horse to win the event.

Mannon said he looks forward to facing Newburger again this season.

“Hopefully, I can get the better of him at least once,” Mannon said. “He’s a world-class pommel horse swinger, so I have a lot of respect for him.”

While Mannon’s individual success was noteworthy, the Gophers men’s gymnastics team as a whole finished fourth overall among six teams.

Burns said he wasn’t “super stoked” about the results but thought the team’s improvement over the course of the meet offered room for encouragement.

Women’s team wins third straight meet

Minnesota traveled to New Hampshire to take on New Hampshire, Brown and Yale in search of a third straight first-place finish to start the season.

The team got it Sunday.

“We started [this season] off with a bang,” head coach Meg Stephenson said. “We’ve started off with a quite a bit of travel coast to coast, and I think we’ve handled it really well.”

The Gophers seem to be full of confidence after three first-place finishes — two of which have come on the road.

“It’s huge,” Stephenson said. “… I’ve been really impressed with how the team has prepared themselves and done what they’ve needed to do to be ready.”

Minnesota certainly looked ready when it claimed the top three spots in the vault competition.

Stephenson said she was particularly impressed with junior Cierra Tomson’s and sophomore Madie Hanley’s performances on the bars. Tomson claimed the top spot in the event with a 9.9.

Both the men’s and women’s teams return home next weekend.