Ellis Mannon has had a lot of highs in gymnastics.

The U of M senior from Indianapolis was the NCAA champion in the pommel horse last season.

And, it seems, he's only getting better. Ellis won the pommel horse at the Winter Cup Challenge at the Riviera Hotel and Casino's Royale Pavilion in Las Vegas.

What's the Winter Cup Challenge, a huge event in the sport of gymnastics. It attracts many of the top college, post-college and junior gymnasts hoping to be named to the U.S. national team someday.

Well, Mannon took a step in that direction.

He was tied for the lead in the pommel horse after the preliminaires with a scored of 15.250. Tied with Donathon Bailey of Cal-Berkeley.

On Saturday, in the finals, Mannon was even better with a score of 15.450 for a total of 30.700.

Marvin Kimble of Swiss Turners was next at 30.200 and Bailey tied for third at 30.050.

“Ellis put together his best routine of the season at the biggest meet of the year so far,” said Gophers coach Mike Burns after the preliminaries. “It’s great to see Ellis step up and perform at such a high level with a new, more difficult and complex routine.”

Here's what the Winter Cup Challenge web site says about its importance:

Performances at the 2015 Winter Cup Challenge will help determine the 15 men who will comprise the U.S. Men’s Senior National Team through the 2015 P&G Gymnastics Championships in Indianapolis Aug. 13-16.

The six members of the 2014 World Championships squad, plus the alternate, retain their spots on the national team.

The remaining eight spots will be determined based on the following criteria: the top three ranked all-around athletes who are not already on the senior national team; two based on the National Team Points System; two athletes selected by the Men’s Program Committee; and one selected by the national team coordinator.

Remember, Indianapolis is home to Mannon.

His routine in Saturday night's final is available on YouTube; it's less than a minute long, but tiring to watch as he whips his legs around continuously.