The Gophers men’s gymnastics team defeated Illinois-Chicago on Sunday afternoon in Chicago, halting a two-meet losing streak.
Minnesota’s win came at a price, though. Junior Zack Chase fractured his tibia while doing a warm-up pass on floor. Chase said he’ll see a team doctor Monday and will likely wear a soft cast. Chase and coach Mike Burns said they don’t know if the injury will be season-ending.
Chase has been a consistent contributor on still rings and vault this season.
Burns described the day as forgettable. Minnesota’s score of 419.2 was its lowest of the season.
“It was hard to put your finger on what the problem was,” he said. “Whatever it was, we didn’t perform near as good as we could have.”
Minnesota had nine falls on routines. Beginning next week, all NCAA teams will be forced to count poor routines due to a rule change. Only five gymnasts will be allowed on each event.
The Gophers had to use five gymnasts on floor exercise Sunday due to Chase’s injury and counted three falls, Burns said.
Adam Kern won the floor exercise and tied for second on vault.
The junior said he was finally able to put all three of his events together at one time Sunday.
Kern said his routines on floor and vault gave the team some momentum heading into the next event of the meet.
Part of the reason the team struggled with consistency Sunday may have been fatigue, Kern said. The team did not fully recover from its meet a week ago in Oklahoma and had an extra day of training this week, he said.
Kern said the Gophers’ home meet next week comes at the right time to build confidence and momentum using the new rules, as consistency will play a large role in the outcome of future competitions.
Pommel horse has been a weakness for Minnesota this season. On Sunday, it was the team’s lowest-scoring event.
Kern said pommel horse is the event all NCAA teams will likely struggle with using the new system.
“It’s so easy to make one little mistake and come off on that,” he said.
Minnesota will face Iowa at home Saturday.
Women drop pair
The Gophers women’s gymnastics team lost for the first time this season over the weekend. Minnesota was upset twice — first at Iowa on Friday night and then at Iowa State on Sunday afternoon.
The difference in the meet Sunday was the uneven bars, as Minnesota had three missed routines and scored a season-low 47.9 points. Junior Kayla Slechta tied for third to lead the Gophers on the event.
Stephenson said she was disappointed in her team’s performance on bars but pleased with its performance on floor and beam Sunday.
She also doesn’t know why the team is struggling with bars in competition.
“They don’t do the same thing they do in practice and warm-ups,” Stephenson said. “Right now it’s in their hands to figure it out as individuals.”
Stephenson said some gymnasts have figured bars out while others continue to struggle.
Freshman Lindsay Mable said there isn’t one particular challenge each week that leads to the struggles on bars, but the team focuses on certain aspects of the routine more than others.
Mable said the team will spend more time in practice talking about improving bars but will need confidence to turn it around.
Minnesota scored well on vault, sweeping the top-three spots. Mable and sophomore Jenny Covers led the way by scoring 9.875.
Mable had a dominant weekend. She led the Gophers on every event Friday against Iowa to win the all-around competition. She followed that up by leading the team in three events Sunday.
Mable said she has been trying to keep mentally focused and calm each week. She said she also has confidence in her routines.
Stephenson said Mable’s confidence has helped her remain a consistently strong performer all season long.
On Friday, the Gophers lost to Iowa by 0.175 points.
Minnesota scored higher than Iowa on vault and balance beam, but it was outscored on uneven bars and floor exercise.
Stephenson said Friday that if the Gophers had not been forced to count a fall on bars, they would have won.
Minnesota will compete at top-ranked Florida this Friday.