The Gophers bounced back from a tough season opener to gain 7.5 team points on Saturday and came in second at the Windy City Invitational.
Minnesota scored 398.750 on the day and was edged only by conference rival Michigan (400.000).
Junior captain Shane Wiskus made his return to the Gophers lineup and came away with the all-around (83.550), floor (14.200) and parallel bars (14.300) titles. He also took second on rings (13.900) and third on pommel horse (13.500).
Junior Colton Dee and senior captain Timmy Kutyla rounded out the top-three finishes for Minnesota and placed second on floor (13.800) and third on high bar (13.600), respectively.
Freshmen Crew Bold (all-around), Donte McKinney (vault, high bar) and Victor Perez (floor) all made their season debuts Saturday. Each one of Minnesota’s five rookies has now seen meet action.
Wiskus was joined in the all-around competition by sophomore Mike Moran. Moran placed sixth on the night (76.300) and posted top five finishes on floor (13.600) and vault (14.100). He has qualified for the USA Gymnastics Winter Cup Challenge in Las Vegas, Nev. on Feb. 20-22. It will be his first appearance at the event as a senior gymnast. Wiskus was prequalified as a US Senior National Team member.
“A couple of highlights came to mind right away with a tremendous improvement on our pommel horse hit percentage. A complete turnaround from last week, the guys looked like their self-belief had cranked up considerably. The other was the five stuck dismounts on high bar that infused the entire team with a jolt of go-go juice heading into our final event,” head coach Mike Burns said. “Despite the fact that we came up a bit shy of taking the team title, I feel like we made some great strides this past week in the gym and it showed out there on the competition floor tonight.”
BURNS ON MNN
Gopher head coach Mike Burns sat down with MNN Sports Director Mike Grimm to talk about the season to date and preview some big things ahead:
The Gophers started the evening on pommel horse for the second week in a row and had much better results than the week before. Minnesota scored 64.550 as a team, and Wiskus led the way with a 13.500 for third place. Junior Russell Johnson had the next highest score for the Gophers, 13 even for ninth place.
Minnesota again made big strides from its season debut, besting last week’s rings score by almost three points. Wiskus had the Gophers’ best score of 13.900 to place second, followed by Dee with 13.550 for seventh place. Junior Henry Meeker and sophomore Garrett Kasiski both posted new career highs on the event, 13.450 and 13.350.
Vault All-American and USA Gymnastics event champion Wiskus made his return to the Gophers lineup on Saturday and did not disappoint. He scored 14.300 to lead Minnesota and place fourth. Dee, ranked ninth in the country coming into the meet, also continued his hot streak on the event and scored in the top five for the second week in a row (14.100). He tied for fifth with Moran.
Wiskus wasted no time in his first outing back on parallel bars and the reigning national champion scored 14.300 for the event title. Sophomore David Pochinka, who was ranked No. 2 and took home the gold at the Rocky Mountain Open, was Minnesota’s second top finisher with a score of 13.850 to place fourth. Senior captain Timmy Kutyla added a 13.600 for sixth place.
The Gophers had a big high bar rotation and recorded five sticks in a row to help post a score of 65.450. Kutyla is continuing his breakout campaign on the event and scored 13.600 to claim bronze after a silver finish last week. He was ranked No. 3 coming into Saturday. Wiskus had Minnesota’s next best score and placed sixth (13.350), and Pochinka was not far behind and notched a 13.200 for eighth.
Minnesota closed its day on floor, saving some of its best for last. The Gophers had a meet-high 65.900 on the event, and Wiskus led the way for his third title of the night (14.200). He was followed up by Dee for the silver (13.800) and Moran claimed fourth with a score of 13.600.
The Road Ahead
The Gophers make their return to Maturi Pavilion and begin defense of their 2019 Big Ten regular season title with a match-up against Illinois on Friday, Jan. 24. The meet is set for 7 p.m.
(info and photo courtesy of Gopher Sports)