Gophers down Huskies

By Kari Brackett

Injuries combined with too many misses proved to be the key for the NIU men’s gymnastic team as the Minnesota Gophers defeated the Huskies 274.45-266.60 at Chick Evans Field House Tuesday night.

NIU’s record falls to 4-6, while Minnesota’s moves to 7-1.

“We just were not very consistent tonight,” Coach Chuck Ehrlich said. “We have to hit our events more.”

Carlos Fulcher, one of NIU’s strongest gymnasts and usually an all-around competitor, only competed in four of the six events because of a strained knee. Eric Solky was the Huskies’ sole all-around competitor.

“He (Fulcher) did not compete on the floor or on the vault because we did not want him to hurt his knee,” Ehrlich said. “We want him to do everything on Saturday so he can qualify for the NCAA championships.”

NIU had a strong showing on the floor exercise, the only event it won. The Huskies racked up 45.20 points compared to the Gophers’ 44.90 points. Dave Smith came in second with a 9.50 score followed by Gene Margiotta’s third-place score of 9.45. Minnesota’s Dale Langefels won the top spot with a 9.60.

After the floor exercise, the Huskies just could not get it together. NIU’s worst event was the pommel horse where Minnesota scored 3.15 points higher. NIU’s Mike Balcer did the best in the event for his team with a 9.25 score to give him third place. Ehrlich called Balcer’s performance his personal best.

Another NIU standout was Margiotta. He gave a strong routine on the vault, winning a blue-ribbon with a 9.60.

“I was very happy with my vault tonight,” Margiotta said. “I just went up there concentrating and I hit it.”

Ehrlich said he was pleased with Solky’s performance, but he was not pleased with the judges’ scoring. Solky tied for first place with Minnesota’s Mike McCabe on the high bar with a score of 9.45. Solky also did well on the still rings with a 9.25 to capture third place.

“The judges were out to lunch when they gave Solky his high bar score,” Ehrlich said. “They are keeping a good gymnast from qualifying for the NCAA tournament.”

Minnesota’s strong performer was Collin Godkin. He took first place on both the still rings and the parallel bars, while placing second on the pommel horse and the vault.

Ehrlich said he hopes his team can work on getting healthy. He also hopes the team will work on its consistency. He said he did not believe any of the events last night were spectacular.

“It could have been an interesting meet if we were more consistent,” Ehrlich said. “We should have scored in the low 270s at least.”