Both the Minnesota Golden Gophers men’s and women’s gymnastics teams competed in the NCAA Championships over the weekend, and while both teams had high hopes of individuals bringing home NCAA Championships to Minneapolis, it was the men’s Shane Wiskus who came through winning individual NCAA Championships on both the still rings and parallel bars. Wiskus also finished in second place in the men’s all around as the Gopher men finished in fifth place in what is most likely their final meet as a varsity team.
While the highest hopes were originally with the Gopher women, it was the men who made one last run as a program. The Gophers competed in the evening NCAA semifinal against Michigan, Stanford, Penn State, Iowa and California. The top three teams would advance to Saturday night’s team finals. The Gophers sat in fourth position for most of the night, but got several performances down the stretch including the highest vault score of the season to propel themselves past Penn State and into third place with a team score of 404.623 and to advance as a team for one more night.
On Saturday the Gopher men would record their best score of the season once again with a 406.291, but it just wasn’t enough to keep up with the top teams in the nation and Minnesota would finish in 5th place. But it was Wiskus who would steal the show. Wiskus would earn six All-American honors Saturday night by finishing in the top-8 in all but one event and in the all-around. With the exception of pommel horse where he finished in 8th place, and vault, Wiskus was either in first or second place in every other event. He would bring home a pair of titles by winning the still rings with a score of 14.400, and then in his final event as a Gopher he would win the parallel bars with a score of 14.433. He would take second in the all-around with his score of 84.866 just shy of Stanford’s Brody Malone score of 85.064.
The Gopher men picked up two more All-American honors as Mike Moran finished in 5th place in the vault and Donte McKinney finished in 5th place in the high bar.
Gopher Women Finish 8th
The Gopher women took to their NCAA semifinal on Friday looking to try and make the team finals for the first time ever in five chances, and to see one of a trio of Gophers could bring back some individual hardware. Unfortunately neither happened as the Gophers finished fourth in their semifinal and 8th overall as a team. Ona Loper came the closest of the trio of Gophers to win an individual event as she has the high vault score of the afternoon session with an amazing 9.9625, but the score could not hold up in the evening session and Loper finished in third place. She put together an impressive day in all four events and Loper would finish the All-Around in fourth place with a score of 39.6375. Mya Hooten was the next Gopher closest to winning an individual event as she was tied for first place in the floor after the afternoon session with a 9.95. Unfortunately that score also did not hold up in the evening session and Hooten finished in a tie for 4th place. A pair of Gophers finished in 5th place on the balance bean as Lexy Ramler and Mary Korlin-Downs both scored 9.925. Unfortunately for the Gophers and Ramler she was not great, just very good on her other events and she would finish in 11th place in the All-Around with a score of 39.5625.
The Gophers did set a new program record with 11 All-American honors. First Team All-American honors went to the top four scores in each semifinal session, and second team All-American honors went to the 5th through 8th best scores in each session. Loper earned first team honors on the vault and the all-around, and second team honors on the floor. Ramler earned first team honors on the beam, and second team honors on the bars, vault, and all-around. Mya Hooten earned first team honors on floor, and second team honors on vault. Korlin-Downs earned first team honors on the beam, and Maddie Quarles earned second team honors on the vault.
Korlin-Downs is a 6th year senior and will be leaving the team after this season, but the status of Loper and Ramler is still unknown. Both are seniors and could come back for one last year of eligibility thanks to the NCAA giving winter athletes a free year of eligibility due to COVID, but they have not announced whether they plan to return or not.