Men fall short at conference meet

Despite some high hopes, the Gophers finished in 5th at the Big Ten meet.

by Alexandra Pluym

The Gophers menâÄôs gymnastics team entered this weekend with high hopes of winning the Big Ten championships, but a below-average performance landed the team in fifth place. No. 6 Minnesota finished with 346.5 points, 7.4 fewer than its season average. Illinois won the meet with 359.7 points, edging out second-place MichiganâÄôs 358.1. Gophers head coach Mike Burns said the men were not prepared because of the pressure they put on themselves to win the Big Ten. âÄúObviously [it was] a disappointing finish, not what we anticipated coming in,âÄù he said. âÄúThey were physically ready but not mentally ready.âÄù The Gophers struggled Friday, finishing better than fourth place in only one event. Minnesota was third in the floor exercise with a score of 59.15. Senior Adam Reichow , who is tied for No. 7 nationally in the event with senior teammate Colin McGuire , scored a 15.3. Pommel horse has been the downfall of the team for most of the season, but even an improved score (55.9) wasnâÄôt enough. Senior Thomas OâÄôBrien led the Gophers with 14.1 points in the event. On the rings, Minnesota scored 57 points. Russell Dabritz led the way with 14.4 points, but the Gophers only had five out of a possible six gymnasts compete in the event, meaning there was little room for error. Minnesota continued to excel in the vault, scoring 62.5 points, the teamâÄôs highest score in the Big Ten championships. Reichow scored 15.85 points for his routine. Only two Minnesota gymnasts scored more than 14 points in the parallel bars, though. One of them was senior Aaron Fortunato, who led the Gophers in the event with 14.5 points. Fortunato, who is ranked No. 4 in the nation, said before the meet that he was optimistic about his high bar performance, but he scored only 14.3 points . Fortunato also hoped to score in the top three in the all around. But he only matched his performance in last yearâÄôs meet, finishing fifth, although he was pleased with his results. âÄúI was happy with how I did, [but] I had a fall on vault that took me out of the top three for the all around,âÄù Fortunato said. Junior Chris Cameron (89.8) and senior Mel Anton Santander (88.45) from Michigan claimed first and second, respectively, in the all around. In Saturday nightâÄôs individual finals, OâÄôBrien finished third on pommel horse with 14.625 points. On floor exercise, McGuire (15.35) and Reichow (15.025) finished third and sixth, respectively. Reichow also ended in fourth on vault, with a score of 15.9. Fortunato took sixth on the parallel bars, finishing with 14.35 points. Burns said the team has to move on from this meet in order to get ready for the NCAAs, but the main thing theyâÄôve been âÄúpreachingâÄù this whole season is âÄúif one guy has trouble, the next guy needs to pick it up.âÄù MinnesotaâÄôs final meet of the season will be the NCAA championship, which starts April 15 in West Point, N.Y.