Canadian gymnast Justin Karstadt has been on fire this year. He was instrumental in leading the Minnesota men’s gymnastics team to a second place finish at the 2018 NCAA Championships while earning two All-American honors in the process on Pommel Horse (5th) and Parallel Bars (3rd). Karstadt continued that momentum a few weeks ago at the Canadian Championships, capturing the Parallel Bars title.
GymnasticsVille: Minnesota’s second place finish was their highest finish as a team in program history. How did it feel to end the season on such a high note?
Justin Karstadt: “It’s probably the most elated and excited I’ve ever felt because of gymnastics. Going on a team journey during the NCAA season, there are so many ups and downs. Especially for us. For me going into the season, I knew that we had the best chance (to win) this year because we had ten seniors on our team. We had a lot of depth and leadership. So I thought this had to be our year. But then at Big Ten Championships, we had a rough meet and finished fifth. We came in looking to win the meet. That was a big low two weeks before NCAA Championships. When it finally all came together at NCAA Championships, it was a long time coming. It was amazing!”
GymnasticsVille: What’s it like to be coached by Minnesota Head Coach Mike Burns?
Justin Karstadt: “Coach Burns is a great human being. On top of everything, he really cares about trying to get to know everyone and to make sure everyone is doing well with all aspects of their life. He is always a positive figure when you walk into the gym. It’s great working with him and all the other coaches, Kostya Kolesnikov and Jordan Valdez.”
GymnasticsVille: What performances on your team from NCAA’s were you impressed with?
Justin Karstadt: “I think definitely Jalon Stephens, he always ramps the energy up. We started on high bar, as a team we were a little nervous starting on high bar. Last year at NCAA Championships we started on high bar and it did not end well. Having Jalon doing a high bar routine this year on the first rotation, he just absolutely nailed it and we got the ball rolling from there.”
GymnasticsVille: How did the gymnasts perform at Canadian Championships? What did it feel like for you to win the Canadian Parallel Bars title?
Justin Karstadt: “I think this past year was probably the best Canadian Championships in terms of performance. I’ve never seen Canada hitting that many clean routines. Event finals was stacked. Especially the two events I did, pommel horse and pbars. These events are strong events for Canada now. There were alot of guys with higher start values then me on pbars. So I knew I needed to do a perfect routine. I actually managed to do that when I stuck my dismount. There was a second I thought, wow I can’t believe I exactly did what I envisioned I’d do. I was so happy after that.”
GymnasticsVille: What’s the next international competition for you this summer?
Justin Karstadt: “I just finished the Canadian Championships, now I’m training for a (FIG) World World Cup in Turkey (July 6-8). There are fellow college gymnasts I’ll be going with: Sam Zakutney (Penn State) and Joel Gagnon (Minnesota). That should be a lot of fun.”