Gophers gymnast rides horse to chance at title

by Susan Filkins

He doesn’t look like a typical gymnast, in fact he doesn’t even seem like a typical college student. He is just too giddy. But the smile on sophomore Jason Krob’s face is unlikely to be erased anytime soon.
Krob, a native of St. Charles, Mo., may not be the strongest member of the Gophers men’s gymnastics team. He’s not the most skilled either. But at No. 4 in the nation on the pommel horse, he is ranked higher than anyone on the team in an individual event.
Krob achieved that distinction last weekend following a dual meet with Iowa. Krob scored a 9.825 in the event, breaking his previous personal best of 9.55.
Krob’s success on the pommel horse is much deserved. After all, it’s his only event. He competed in the all-around in high school. But at Minnesota, Krob knew he was specifically looked upon for his talent on the pommel horse.
Krob credits Gophers coach Fred Roethlisberger for taking a chance on him.
“He went out on a limb,” Krob said. “When I first came up here, my form was horrendous. I really didn’t think I would compete in the first year at all. But then, Fred inspired the confidence by putting me in there, even when I was having troubles.”
In his first year, Krob finished sixth on the pommel horse in the Big Ten championships. He said his goal last year was to be in the finals at Big Tens. This year, he’s shooting for the conference championship.
Still, he said, competing in just one of six events is frustrating. While other teammates go through rotations during practice, Krob simply acts as a motivator during down time.
“It is really tough because you feel like you want to contribute so much more,” Krob said. “But if I am going to do this one event, I am sure as hell going to do it the best that I can. That is what keeps me going.”
Krob hopes he’ll also compete on the parallel bars and vault for the Gophers. He still works those events, but his focus is the pommel horse.
“I can definitely (get higher scores), but I don’t put much weight in scores because it is totally subjective,” Krob said of his event. “If I am doing a routine, and I know that it is better than 9.825, then I am happy.”
Krob said it takes a certain gymnast — one with a thin body and quick hands — to master the pommel horse.
“It is so temperamental,” Krob said. “One day you can be the king of the world, and the next day you can bust up your leg. One minute you are up, and the next minute you are hitting the ground hard.”
During meets, Krob tries to focus on what Roethlisberger tells him in practice. “You compete exactly how you practice so you should practice how you compete,” Krob said.
Krob’s attitude and determination have brought him a long way. Through that, he has earned the team’s respect.
“He’s really different,” Roethlisberger said. “He is so mild-mannered and considerate of everybody. He will do anything, in the gym and out of the gym. He is the nicest guy you will ever want to meet.”