As the University of Minnesota men's gymnastics team gets set to host Air Force on the Friday at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion, senior captain Travis Heaver sat down with GopherSports.com to discuss Gophers men's gymnastics.
GopherSports.com: Your team is now mid-way through its season, what are some of your impressions of this season's Gophers men's gymnastics squad?
Heaver: We're off to a good start, but we're just waiting to put everything together at the same time. We've had a lot of good things happen, just not at the same time, and that's really what we're looking to do.
GopherSports.com: What do you feel this team needs to do in order to have a strong finish to the season?
Heaver: Like I was saying, we just need everyone to start hitting their routines at the same time. We need to get some more practice and experience. We've got a few guys that are sort of beat up with minor injuries, and so obviously getting them healthy will help too.
GopherSports.com: Health is an important part of any team having a successful season. What do you do and the other Gopher gymnasts need to do to remain healthy throughout the season?
Heaver: There's rehab, prehab and everything you need to do in the gym in order to maintain healthy. Just being smart in the gym is a big key so you're not trying to do anything you're not capable of. It really just comes down to staying smart and doing what you have to do to stay healthy.
GopherSports.com: You are no stranger to injuries yourself, having battled them throughout your Gophers career, what have you learned from dealing with your injuries?
Heaver: Keeping up with rehab is the fastest way to overcome injuries. What you really have to do when you have an injury is to use that time as an opportunity to work something else. It has to be viewed as an opportunity to get better, not as a setback.
GopherSports.com: The Gophers have been on the road a lot this season, with only one home meet so far, how do you view the road-heavy schedule your team has had so far?
Heaver: I love traveling with everybody, it's always a lot of fun. It's a good experience having the team together for so long, whether it's at the hotel or on the bus, it's a good bonding experience and it's fun.
GopherSports.com: The Gophers have bounced around a little bit in the rankings so far this season, going from No. 8 to No. 7 and now to No. 9, how much do you pay attention to that?
Heaver: We all look at the rankings, you just can't ignore that. The top six teams are the one's who make it into the NCAA finals, so obviously that's where we want to get to. I think when we put it all together, we'll be right there to be in one of the top six spots.
GopherSports.com: Air Force comes into this week's meet ranked No. 11, but it's also a team that you beat by over 20 points last season, what are some of your hopes to accomplish this week against them?
Heaver: Everybody enjoys competing at home and enjoying that home environment. I don't think it matters who we're competing against, it just gives us a chance to show what we can do for our home crowd, and it's nice having them cheer us on.
GopherSports.com: You were a walk-on athlete for this program four years ago, and now you're a team captain, how does it make you feel knowing that your effort throughout the years is recognized by both your teammates and the coaching staff?
Heaver: It's nice to be appreciated. I was voted to be a captain by my teammates and it's nice to have their confidence and respect.
GopherSports.com: Your main event as a Gopher has been the still rings, certainly one of the events that requires the most absolute upper-body strength, what does it take to have a good rings routine?
Heaver: Obviously it takes a lot of strength. My first four skills are straight strength moves, and I try to get up there and get my blood going and get jacked-up to hold those positions. Then from there I do a couple swinging moves, and it's tiring after those strength moves, so it comes down to digging deep and changing from a strength-mindset into getting ready to do some good swings and push through to the end.
Interview by Keith Beise, Athletic Communications Assistant