By Jennie Clark
Minnesota Athletic Communications
The Gopher men's gymnastics team starts off the season with a trip to Chicago for the Windy City Invitational, hosted by the University of Illinois-Chicago, on Saturday.
Coming off the Gophers' annual Alumni Meet, head coach Mike Burns is feeling confident.
"To be honest, it was one of the best alumni meets we've had since I've been at Minnesota," Burns said. "We didn't have a great hit percentage, but our gymnastics was at a much higher level in terms of quality."
Senior Aaron Fortunato thinks the team is looking strong after the Alumni Meet and he is looking forward to the Windy City Invitational.
"I think we're going to do really well," Fortunato said. "The last meet was a good one to get the first-meet jitters out. I think we're going to settle down and great gymnastics will come out."
Minnesota is looking forward to competing this weekend. The Windy City Invitational is always the kick-off event for the Gophers, and something they all look forward to.
Most of the six Big Ten schools who sponsor men's gymnastics will be competing t the Windy City Invitational. Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Ohio State round out the field, along with the Gophers and host UIC Flames.
"It's the kick-off meet," Burns said. "It's really a preview of the Big Ten Championships. All the teams are at this competition, except for Penn State."
Being a part of the Gopher gymnastics team for four years, Fortunato said he and the rest of the squad are always excited for the Windy City Invitational.
"It's something everyone looks forward to each year," Fortunato said. "It's fun, almost like a Big Ten Championship, at the beginning of the season."
The Gophers are looking to start their season off on the right foot. After finishing third at last year's event and coming off a solid exhibition performance in last week's Alumni Meet, Fortunato believes the Gophers could come away from this weekend with a Windy City Invitational title.
"I think we have a legitimate shot to take it away this time," Fortunato said. "It's going to be fun. It's going to be exciting and it's always a battle. It's going to be a great meet."
Minnesota finished third at the Windy City Invitational in 2009. This year's event begins at 7 p.m. CT at the UIC Physical Education Building. GopherSports.com will have full results following the meet.
- Fortunato was the Gophers' lone individual event champion at the Windy City Invitational last year. He took the title on the parallel bars with a score of 14.900, which ended up as his season-best score on the event.
- Adam Reichow was third in the vault at last year's Windy City meet, tallying a respectable 15.500 seaosn-opening score.
- Michigan won the team title at last year's Windy City Invitational, followed by Illinois and Minnesota. Ohio State, UIC and Iowa rounded out the order of finish.
- Minnesota opens the 2010 season with a seasoned, veteran squad. The Gophers have nine seniors on this year's roster.
- The Gophers have four gymnasts with All-America credentials on their resume, as they enter the 2010 season. Cole Storer is a two-time All-America performer. Adam Reichow also brought home two All-America awards in 2007 as a freshman. Andre Berry earned All-America recognition in 2007 as a freshman. DJ Repp is Minnesota's lone 2009 All-America performer returning for 2010.