Gophers remain upbeat despite loss to Michigan

The team scored a season-high 408.300 but couldn’t overcome the Wolverines.

Senior Shaun Herzog competes in the still rings at the Maturi Pavilion on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Jack Rodgers

Senior Shaun Herzog competes in the still rings at the Maturi Pavilion on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Paul Hodowanic

The Gophers came into Saturday hoping for revenge against the Wolverines, who finished one place better than them at last week’s Windy City Invitational. Despite a season-high 408.300 score, the Gophers were unable to top Michigan, which scored 413.150. 

“We were much better than the last two meets. … Our hit percentage was very good, I was pleased with that,” said head coach Mike Burns. “We are a solid team, but some of our bigger scorers could’ve been a little better.” 

Michigan was led by a strong all-around performance by sophomore Cameron Bock. Bock finished first in rings, parallel bars and horizontal bars, and second in floor. His performance earned the award for top all-around gymnast. 

Minnesota improved immensely in the pommel horse, claiming the top two spots of the event, as Justin Karstadt won with a score of 13.700. The event had been a struggle throughout the beginning of the season and was a key point of emphasis throughout the week at practice. 

“Our pommel horse was excellent compared to last week, around three and a half points better,” said Burns. “That is a huge step in the right direction.”

Shane Wiskus continued his strong all-around performance for the Gophers, finishing second in pommel horse and parallel bars, third in horizontal bars and fourth in rings. 

“I did a lot better than I have been doing the last few meets. Unfortunately, I made a mistake on vault, which hopefully will be ironed out in the next few weeks,” Wiskus said. “If I wouldn’t have fallen, it would’ve been one of my best scores of all-time.”

Shaun Herzog led the way for the Gophers on vault scoring 14.750, placing second in the event. His performance earned the himself the top gymnast award for the Gophers in front of a rousing home crowd at Maturi Pavillion.

“[The crowd] is a big boost of energy for us. If we have a stuck landing, the crowd goes wild,” said Herzog. “You can just feel that roar go through the Pav and that’s a great feeling.” 

Although the team had its best overall performance of the season, one of their emotional leaders and top scorers, Vitali Kan struggled. In both of the first two meets this season, Kan tied for first on vault but could only muster a fifth place finish against Michigan. Kan also struggled with the floor exercise, finishing last, and finished eighth in pommel horse. 

“Sometimes he might put a little too much pressure on himself as a team leader. We need his scores and he knows we need his scores, so sometimes that can be a monkey on his back,” said Burns. “He needs to take all the pressure of doing what the team needs him to do out of equation, and go out and do what he is capable of doing.” 

Although it was just a two team event, the gymnasts shared the floor for much of the meet with junior competitors competing in the annual John Roethlisberger Iceberg Open. The competition features kids of all ages and added an extra element for the gymnasts and fans. 

The Gophers will hit the mats once again on Saturday Feb. 2 in Iowa City when they take on Iowa and UIC.