Jan. 25, 2013
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The Minnesota men’s gymnastics team begins its home schedule at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Sports Pavilion when it hosts Air Force.
The meet is also Military Appreciation Day. Members of the military will receive free admission with a Military I.D. and their guests will be able to purchase discounted $4 tickets.
The Gophers have competed in one meet this year, finishing fourth out of six teams in the star-studded Windy City Invitational last Saturday.
Minnesota enters the event ranked No. 7 in the nation, while Air Force flies into Minneapolis with a No. 11 ranking.
Gopher coach Mike Burns is looking for a strong performance out of his team.
“We should have an advantage, but they can come out here and have a great meet and put pressure on us,” said Burns. “We are looking to improve on our performance from last weekend and Air Force will be looking to do the same. Gymnastics is one of those sports where you never know what is going to happen. We need to be on our toes and be ready to defend our home turf.”
Minnesota recorded a score of 425.750 last Saturday in Chicago, while Air Force posted a score of 414.200 in a win against Army.
Burns said scoring can fluctuate depending on the meet location, so despite having a scoring advantage the Gophers coach hardly looks at how teams have fared statistically in the early part of the season.
Instead, Burns and his staff pay attention to hits, sticks and missed routines. Those are all three areas where Minnesota is looking to show improvement this weekend.
“We need to hit more routines than we did last week,” said Burns. “We had a good start to our season at the Windy City, but we counted eight missed routines. We gave up some points.
“We look at hit percentage. We hit at 64 percent last week. Hopefully this week we can be around 75 percent. Hopefully we can count fewer misses and stick more dismounts. There are bonus points this year for stuck dismounts, so those are critical. We had seven sticks last week, so we gained one point or so. If we can improve on our sticks, our hit percentage and decrease our number of missed routines then I will be happy.”
Burns will also be happy if all of his gymnasts are able to compete, as some team members battled the flu earlier this week.
In addition to the flu, some nagging injuries have caused Burns to make some slight changes to his practice philosophy. He said he is “starting to think more like a football coach,” and has held some guys back in practice this week.
“We have to be ready for the weekend, so we are looking at the best ways to manage some guys through training sessions during the week,” said Burns. “I am starting to realize that sometimes you can back down a bit in practice and then step it up during the meets. You are always a bit nervous in not doing enough preparation, but I need to trust these guys that they will step it up when it counts.”