The University of Minnesota men's gymnastics team returns home for the first time in almost a month it hosts Air Force on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion.
The meet marks the midpoint of the Gophers season and presents an opportunity for them to begin positioning for the post-season. Yet the Gophers know that Air Force will still present a challenge for them on their home turf.
"Air Force is a team that every year gets a little bit stronger," Minnesota head coach Mike Burns said. "Last week we had a good win down at Iowa but we scored a 336, and Air Force's last score was a 333 so they're kind of nipping at our tail here."
The Gophers will be forced to make a few lineup changes due to a few different athletes battling various injuries, an issue that plagues many teams this time of year. However, the Gophers are remaining confident that they can still put together a solid meet.
"Our lineup is going to be a little bit depleted, but not to the point that it's worrying me right now," Burns said. "I think we have to be careful that we're not too relaxed in this competition and thinking Air Force is an easy win because they're getting their guys ready to take it to the University of Minnesota right now."
Be sure to follow the live blog throughout the meet right here on GopherSports.com.
Success Over Air Force
The Gophers last squared off against Air Force in 2010 when Minnesota hosted a four-team meet. The Gophers finished first of the four teams with a score of 350.55, more than 20 points better than Air Force's third-place score of 329.8 points.
The Gophers have faced a nationally ranked opponent in every meet so far this season. That trend continues as Air Force comes into the meet ranked No. 11 in the country.
The Gophers began the season ranked No. 8 nationally, then moved up to No. 7 following a solid showing to start the season at the Windy City Invitational. They remained in that spot for the following four weeks, and then got bumped to No. 9 after last week's win at Iowa.
All-around Solid Team
Minnesota ranks in the top 10 nationally in every event. It comes into the meet ranking No. 5 in the parallel bars, No. 6 on the vault, No. 8 of the floor exercise, and No. 9 on the pommel horse, still rings and the high bar.
Individual Rankings Abound
The Gophers have several individual gymnasts in the national rankings. Junior DJ Repp is third in the country on the vault. Freshman John Scallon is No. 6 on the pommel horse and fellow freshman Zack Chase is ranked No. 13 on the floor exercise and No. 19 on the rings. Sophomore Harris Coleman comes into the meet at No. 13 on the pommel horse.
On the Road Again
The match-up against Air Force will be just the second home meet the Gophers have had so far this season. Only California, with no home meets so far this season has had fewer home appearances. Minnesota will be back on the road next weekend as it heads to UIC on Sunday, before coming back for the Gophers' final home meet of the season as they host Iowa and Penn State on March 5.