Improvement from last week was needed if the Minnesota men's gymnastics team was going to be successful Saturday.
The ninth-ranked Gophers definitely showed improvement and looked impressive as they defended their home floor by defeating sixth-ranked Illinois, winning 207.15-204.75.
William & Mary
when: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
where: RiverCentre, St. Paul
Having instilled the idea of home-floor advantage with his team all week, coach Mike Burns said he was pleased with the way his team responded.
"All week we talked about protecting our home," he said. "We said no one was coming in here and stealing anything from us and these guys took it to heart."
Minnesota came out of the gate strong, adding nearly a full point to its score in the floor exercises.
Freshman Andre Berry finished with a 9.0 while redshirt freshman Adam Reichow nailed his routine for a 9.25. After the disastrous outing in Chicago a week ago, the Gophers stuck every routine.
And while Illinois won the floor event, Reichow said the Gophers' success in the event built confidence for the meet.
"We just hit," he said. "We had a great meet tonight and being able to start off strong on the floor was a huge boost for us."
The Illini suffered a few falls on the pommel horse, allowing Minnesota to overtake them with big routines from senior Jake Lee and sophomore Kit Beikmann. After two events, the Gophers led 68.3-66.7.
Despite a slight letdown in the still rings, strong vault scores helped Minnesota to a 137.2-135.95 lead after four events. Freshman Cole Storer won the vault with a score of 8.95, while Reichow placed second in the event with an 8.7.
Things could have gone downhill for the Gophers in the final two events, but junior Sergei Dmitriev finished strong for Minnesota, allowing them to hold off the surging Illinois squad.
Dmitriev was the top scorer in both the parallel bars and the horizontal bar for a combined score of 18.2, helping to salvage what started off as a potentially bad round at the horizontal bar.
"I was just focused on doing my part," he said. "I got there and did exactly what I needed to do, and things worked out for us in the end."
Burns had nothing but good things to say about his team following the win.
"We knew going in that we needed a lot of people to step up for us and that happened tonight," he said. "As a coach, it was great to see that."
Women fall at Penn State
The 15th-ranked Minnesota women's gymnastics team fell to No. 18 Penn State on Saturday, 192.9-191.175.
Freshman all-arounder Jamie Bullock aggravated a foot injury early in the meet, causing her to miss three of four events, but the Gophers managed to win the floor exercise despite the absence.
Sophomore Carmelina Carabajal placed highest in the event, collecting a score of 9.825 to lead the team to a 48.625-48.075 event win.
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