Feb. 23, 2013
This weekend’s match for the Minnesota men’s gymnastics team should have a familiar feeling for the Gophers.
The Maroon and Gold traveled to Chicago today and will face UIC at 1 p.m. on Feb. 24, to end three-straight weeks on the road.
“Chicago is a nice trip for us,” said Minnesota coach Mike Burns. “We jump on a bus and head on down. This time we will stop at Michael Farquhar’s house in nearby Elgin, Ill., for team dinner on the way.”
The Gophers have faced UIC twice this year. Minnesota competed in the UIC-hosted Windy City Invitational to begin the season and posted a score of 425.750, while the Flames recorded a 401.600.
The Gophers then hosted UIC and Nebraska in the Sports Pavilion on Feb. 2. Minnesota won the meet, scoring 431.200 points to UIC’s 392.100.
Minnesota enters this weekend’s event coming off a loss at No. 2 Oklahoma, but despite the outcome the Gophers are carrying a lot of momentum into their showdown with the Flames. Minnesota recorded a season-high 435.450 against the Sooners and also notched season-high scores in five of six events.
“We are moving in the right direction and need to continue on our hit percentage,” said Burns. “At this time of the year it is deduction-reduction time. One of our goals with our routines is to see how many routines we can get that have one point or less in deductions from their start values. Last week, we had our highest number with 16 routines. The week before we had nine, so that was a huge improvement.”
While some teams add difficulty to their routines at this time of the year, Burns said the Gophers will focus on fine-tuning their routines and eliminating as many mistakes as possible.
“We are trying to move a three-tenth deduction to a one-tenth deduction,” said Burns. “If we can improve by one-tenth for 30 routines, that is three points. It adds up fast. That is how you have to look at it. Illinois and Iowa competed last week and Iowa beat Illinois by .05 points. That is when you realize when every tenth counts. Even if you struggle and fight not to give up as many points then that can be the difference.”
In addition to looking for more streamlined routines, Burns will also be keeping an eye on his gymnasts who are between fourth and sixth in each rotation. This weekend is the last week where each team will use the top five scores of six competing gymnasts in each routine. Starting next weekend at home against Iowa, teams will only use five gymnasts and all five scores will count.
“We have a pretty good idea who our top four guys are in each event,” said Burns of his future lineup decisions. “A lot of it will come down to who looks hot at that particular time.”