Last rotation propels Husker men’s gymnasts past Gophers

February 24, 2019

No. 8 Nebraska hadn’t beaten No. 4 Minnesota in men’s gymnastics since 2010.

Now, it’s happened twice in less than two months after the Huskers beat Minnesota and No. 18 Illinois-Chicago at the Devaney Sports Center on Saturday afternoon.

It came down to the final rotation, with the Huskers on the high bars and the Gophers on the vault.

“The vault is a higher scoring event; everyone knows that,” Husker coach Chuck Chmelka said. “It’s just the way it is in gymnastics, and everyone knows it. We just came together and said, ‘Let’s just go hit. High bar party. We need this.’”

The Huskers came through to give NU a 404.650-403.600 win over the Gophers. Illinois-Chicago finished third with 362.600.

Freshman Khalil Jackson and sophomore Griffin Kehler both scored 14.000 on the high bar to seal the victory.

“I don’t even know if I know yet what this means moving forward,” Chmelka said. “It’s big. It’s a lot. Finding a way to win and those last four guys hitting was it for us. We just need to keep getting better, and who knows what comes next.”

Nebraska set the tone of the meet with a 71.800 on the vault as a team. Anton Stephenson scored a 14.850 and Zack Peters scored a 14.600 for NU in the event.

Winning the meet was exactly what Chmelka needed, especially after the past two days.

With the snowstorm rolling into Lincoln on Saturday, the Husker wrestling team moved its dual from 6 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. That meant the teams would have to share the Devaney Sports Center floor.

“It kind of went all together like a jigsaw,” Chmelka said. “I didn’t think it would work, but by gosh, it did. I thought it was awesome.”

With the wrestling dual going on simultaneously, Chmelka said there were a lot of distractions. But that is exactly what he wanted.

“That’s how it is a national meet or at Big Tens. That’s what we needed and we sure got it,” Chmelka said.