Montague wins first all-around title

The women’s team lost its first meet of the season on Friday to Denver.

Senior Paul Montague Jr. competes on the parallel bars on Saturday at the Sports Pavilion.

Image by Niti Gupta

Senior Paul Montague Jr. competes on the parallel bars on Saturday at the Sports Pavilion.

by Thomas Jaakola

Paul Montague Jr. waited until his final home meet to compete in the all-around.
And he made it count. 
The senior gymnast won the event on Saturday at the Sports Pavilion as the Gophers scored 438.350 points to defeat the University of Illinois-Chicago and the Minnesota club team.
“It was exciting and was a little bit surreal,” Montague said. “You come in freshman year, and at a blink, your senior night’s here. It happened so fast.”
Montague scored 85.150 points in the all-around, competing in all six events for the first time in his career. He won the high bar and the still rings to go along with his all-around title.
Junior Zach Liebler won the floor exercise and the vault, and freshman Justin Karstadt won the pommel horse and the parallel bars. Overall, the Gophers recorded the top three scores on every event.
Liebler scored a 15.450 to win the vault, and on the floor, the crowd roared as he completed a routine that scored a 16.150. The mark is a new program record and is the highest score in the event in the country this year.
“You do a couple of cartwheels and pinwheels, and you just jump up and down for joy because that’s a great thing,” head coach Mike Burns said. “Every week, he seems to be doing a little bit better, and he’s really zoning in on his personal goals, which are pretty lofty.”
The Gophers set a new program record as a team on the floor with a combined score of 76.650.
Karstadt scored a career-high 15.300 on the pommel horse to win the event, and he won the parallel bars with a 15.000.
“We had a ton of stuck dismounts, which really is a super key to success because you do that a bunch of times and the swing in the points is a huge amount, and it really makes a big difference,” Burns said.
No. 19 women split weekend
Minnesota women’s gymnastics teams split a pair of meets over the weekend, giving the team its first loss of the season.
The Gophers fell to No. 13 Denver on Friday night after winning eight consecutive meets to start the year.
Denver swept all the individual event titles to defeat No. 19 Minnesota 196.825-196.175. The Gophers had the highest team scores on the vault and balance beam.
“We started off not quite the way we’d hoped on uneven bars, having to count a fall,” head coach Jenny Hansen said. “But they really came back, and we actually had our best performances on floor and vault, so that was really exciting for us.”
Senior Lindsay Mable finished second on the all-around, floor exercise and vault. She tied for second with senior Hanna Nordquist on the beam.
The Gophers bounced back just two days later, defeating Denver and Air Force in a meet on Sunday afternoon.
“[It was] just an awesome meet. They really came back, and it was so fun to see them perform at the level they’re capable of,” Hansen saidon Sunday. “We knew they had it in them, and to put it together tonight was just awesome.”
Minnesota’s team score was 197.225, while Denver took second with a 197.050.
The Gophers won three event titles, starting with Nordquist taking first on the balance beam with a 9.950.
Mable took first on the vault with a score of 9.950, and junior Bailie Holst won the uneven bars with a 9.950, the second-highest score in program history.
“We want to carry this momentum with us into next weekend. And, hopefully, they will just have a little more confidence next weekend and [believe] that this is who we are as a team and what we’re capable of,” Hansen said on Sunday.