THIS WEEK: The eighth-ranked University of Minnesota men’s gymnastics team will open the 2009 season against some stiff competition at the Windy City Invitational Saturday. The meet is hosted by the University of Illinois-Chicago and will be held at the on-campus Physical Education Building (PEB). The event is slated to begin at 7 p.m. CST.
THE FIELD: Five Top 10 teams from the GymInfo Coaches Poll will take part in the Windy City Invitational, including No. 8 Minnesota. In addition to the Gophers, preseason No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Illinois, No. 6 Michigan and No. 9 Iowa will all be taking part. Illinois-Chicago, the host school, is ranked No. 12 in the preseason poll.
BIG TEN PREVIEW: The 2009 Windy City Invitational will give the Gophers an early indication as to how they stack up in the Big Ten Conference. Five of the six Big Ten squads will be taking part in this weekend’s event. The only Big Ten team not competing this weekend in Chicago is fifth-ranked Penn State University.
GOPHER POLL: After finishing eighth at last year’s NCAA Championships, Minnesota is ranked in that familiar No. 8 position heading into the 2009 season. The Big Ten is once again very highly regarded heading into the season, as all six teams are in the top nine spots of the preseason poll.
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS: The 2009 NCAA Championships will be held on campus at the University of Minnesota. The 2009 national title will be decided at the Sports Pavilion April 16-18. Tickets are available at www.GopherSports.com or by calling 1.800.UGOPHER.
2009 CAPTAINS: Senior Kit Beikmann and junior Aaron Fortunato were named 2009 team captains back in May. Beikmann was the Big Ten pommel horse runner-up in 2008 after winning a Big Ten championship and All-America honors in the event in 2007. Fortunato was the Gophers’ workhorse during the 2008 season, as he competed in the all-around during all 11 meets.
2008 REWIND: Two Golden Gophers earned All-America honors last season. Then-senior Mitchell Mays (vault) and then-sophomore Cole Storer (high bar) highlighted Minnesota’s 2008 NCAA Championships. As a team, the Gophers finished fifth at the Big Ten Championships and narrowly missed the NCAA team finals.
SCORING SYSTEM BACK FOR SECOND SEASON: The 2008 men’s gymnastics season will feature a scoring system that was adopted prior to the 2008 season. The NCAA has elected to adopt the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) open-ended Code of Points, which has been used internationally since 2005. The new system allows for scoring above 10 points with each score being broken down into two components: exercise composition and exercise presentation. The gymnast’s final score is the sum of the two elements.
BURNS BITES: Quotes from Gopher head coach Mike Burns ...
“The Windy City Invitational has kicked off the collegiate gymnastics season for as many years as I can remember. This is always a great way to get the ball rolling and to see where our guys are in terms of the preparation we have been going through since September. The Chicago area has a rich history of great gymnastics and I’m always amazed at how many former NCAA Champions come out to watch the next generation of college gymnasts.”
“Coach CJ Johnson runs a great competition on the campus of the University of Illinois-Chicago. It’s always great to see him and all the other coaches and gymnasts that descend on this annual tradition.”
“Our guys are really looking forward to getting the season started and there’s no better way than doing it at the Windy City Invitational.”