By Jennie Clark
Athletic Communications Assistant
The Golden Gopher men's gymnastics team is coming home for a regular-season meet for the first time since the NCAA Championships were hosted at the Sports Pavilion at the end of last season. The Gophers will return to the Sports Pavilion on Saturday, hosting Washington and Arizona State.
Minnesota looks forward to performing in front of its home crowd after competing at the Windy City Invitational last week.
"It's always great to be at home," head coach Mike Burns said. "You're comfortable. You don't have to travel. You're not sleeping in a hotel. You get to use your own equipment. You have your own fans. It's always better to be home. "
After a rough week last week, the Gophers are looking forward to bouncing back as a team. Coach Burns is excited about this week of practice and some improvements his squad has made.
"I feel good about our home opener. We had a good week of practice" Burns said. "We still have some problems that are being sorted out and we have to keep working on them through the week. But we are looking forward to this meet."
Senior Adam Reichow believes that returning home will be just what the Gophers need to get them back on track. They will have back-to-back meets at home to try to do just that.
"I think coming home is always a nice thing, especially when our team is looking to build some momentum," Reichow said. "We want to use these next two home meets to lead us into some of the tough meets we have ahead of us."
After some injuries taking place at the Windy City Invitational, the Gophers looked to some underclassmen to help out the team.
"Harris Coleman, a freshman, did such a great job last week stepping up and hitting the floor routine, after DJ Repp went down with an injury," Reichow said.
Coach Burns was very proud of Travis Heaver who was also asked to step up this past meet. Heaver was the top performer for the Gophers on the still rings.
The Gophers believe that their first-meet struggles weren't indicative of where they are headed in 2010.
"We have all the ingredients we need as a team," Reichow said. "We just need to put them together for this meet."
This week's meet is slated for Noon at the Sports Pavilion.
Gophers Finish Fifth at Windy City Invitational
Minnesota opened its 2010 season with a fifth-place finish at the six-team Windy City Invitational in Chicago last weekend. The Gophers scored 337.650 points in the event, which is the lowest score Minnesota has posted in more than two years. The Gophers will look to rebound from that showing in its first home meet of the season this afternoon.
Hosting Washington, Arizona State
Minnesota hosted these same two teams, along with Calgary University, last season in the home opener. The Golden Gophers won that meet and scored a regular-season best 348.850 in the meet. Minnesota was paced by a school, single-meet record for the pommel horse against the Sun Devils, Huskies and Dinosaurs. The Gophers tallied a 57.450 score on the horse in the home opener last year. Minnesota took the top three scores in four of six events - pommel horse, still rings, high bar and parallel bars -- against these two teams last season.
Minnesota comes into this meet ranked No. 10 in the nation. The Gophers were No. 8 in the Preseason Coaches Poll, but slipped to No. 10 after struggling a bit in the season-opening Windy City Invitational. Arizona State comes into today's meet with a No. 16 rank. The Gophers' highest rank on an individual event is No. 5 on high bar. Minnesota's most highly-ranked individual gymnast is Aaron Fortunato, who comes into this weeks' meet with a No. 9 ranking on the high bar.
Join The Club
Both of this week's opponents are club teams, which are not financially sponsored by their respective universities. However, both of these programs help to continue the sport of men's gymnastics at the collegiate level by providing numerous athletes a chance to further their career during college. Even though there are usually no scholarships and no financial backing from the university, club teams such as those competing at Minnesota this weekend are important to the sport. Many of these student-athletes and coaches have been willing to sacrifice a tremendous amount in order to participate and continue the sport of collegiate men's gymnastics.