U gymnast favored in U.S. Olympic trials

by Chet Decker

With four world championships and Olympic experience already under his belt, former Gophers gymnast John Roethlisberger is more than ready to continue to dominate the United States gymnastics scene.
And now he has fuel to add to the fire.
Two weeks ago in the U.S. Gymnastics National Championships, Roethlisberger was upset by Ohio State’s Blaine Wilson. The championships account for 40 percent of the scoring which determines who makes the Olympic team. The top seven competitors are taken in the all-around.
“For such a long time John has pretty much dominated, and now Blaine is right there,” John’s coach and father Fred Roethlisberger said. “Together, the two should do well. They are two guys that will really help the team.”
And to make the 1996 Olympic team, John has to perform well, but not spectacular, in the final leg of the trials Thursday and Saturday in Boston.
Wilson and Roethlisberger are so far ahead of the pack that they would basically have to fall off either the rings, bars or pommel horse to not make the team.
In 1992 Roethlisberger made the Olympic team as an alternate for the Games in Barcelona, Spain.
“In ’92 it was a real war. We were watching scores too much,” Fred Roethlisberger said of John’s qualifying for the team. “This time he and Blaine are well ahead of everyone else.”
Fred Roethlisberger, who was an Olympian in 1968, doesn’t find himself instructing his son on the finer points of gymnastics too often. John is currently ranked 30th in the all-around worldwide.
“I don’t help him that much (confidence-wise). He’s a much better gymnast than I could ever teach. If I see him stray a little bit, then I let him know.”
Fred Roethlisberger said John had a tough time recovering from the national championships two weeks ago both mentally and physically.
“He had a good week in practice last week though,” Fred Roethlisberger said. “And now he is fully rested and ready to go.”
Guentzel to stay with Gophers
Gophers hockey assistant coach Mike Guentzel has withdrawn his name from the short list of candidates for University of Nebraska-Omaha head coach.
Guentzel said Monday that he will remain as an assistant coach at Minnesota. He informed UNO Athletics Director Don Leahy that he wanted to remain at the school where he played his college hockey in hopes that some day he could be head coach there.
Guentzel’s withdrawal leaves finalists Greg Drechsel, an assistant coach at the University of Denver; former Omaha Lancers coach Frank Serratore, who is with the Winnipeg Moose; and Wisconsin assistant coach Mike Kemp. The search committee at UNO will complete the interviews by Wednesday.
Leahy said a new coach might be named as early as Thursday for the new NCAA Division I program that UNO hopes to have well on its way for a competitive first season in 1997-98.
Hasselmo hits hole-in-one
Patricia Hasselmo, wife of University President Nils Hasselmo, hit a hole-in-one on the 18th on Thursday at the Town and Country Club in St. Paul.
Hasselmo used a 7-iron on the 119-yard par-three hole. She told her husband about her accomplishment but said his reaction was restrained.
“I don’t think he was as impressed as I was,” Patricia said. “It has to be a fluky thing, and it’s exciting when it happens.”
Nils Hasselmo commented on his spouse’s achievement at a weekly media briefing Monday.
“She has been quite buoyant and energized by this experience,” he said. “And it puts in even worse light my own lack of prowess on the golf course.”
Bogart drops out of trials
Former Gophers diver P.J. Bogart dropped out of the U.S. Olympic diving trials after the preliminary round last weekend. The three-time NCAA champion finished in 13th place.
U women’s gymnastics adds a walk-on
The Gophers women’s gymnastics team landed their fourth and final recruit of the season last week.
Kammi Phillippi, who competed for Roseville High School, has agreed to walk on to the team this winter.
She has gone to regionals the past three years for her high school team and will compete for Minnesota in the balance beam and floor exercise.
— Matthew Cross contributed to this roundup. It also contains information from the Associated Press newswire