By Jennie Clark
Athletic Communications Assistant
After a two week break, No. 6-ranked Minnesota is set to compete against the the No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners this weekend in Norman, Okla.
The sixth-ranked Gophers look forward to competing on the road this week, hoping to bounce-back after a road loss at Illinois two weeks ago. Minnesota's best performances so far in 2010 have come at home in the Sports Pavilion, while they have struggled a bit away from home.
"It's always tough going on the road," head coach Mike Burns said. "But we have to use this as an opportunity to learn something about what it is going to take to really step up and hit on the road. That's what we're going to have to do in all our big championship meets."
Minnesota has high goals going into this meet against the second-ranked Sooners. The most important goal Burns and the Gophers have for this week is posting their best hit percentage of the year.
"We're shooting for 85 percent hit this week." Paulus said. "And we need a (score of) 350 this week to put up a good score on the road, because that counts toward our national ranking."
Minnesota's No. 6 national ranking is its highest in almost a year. Meanwhile, the Sooners have consistently been a Top 5 team over the past couple seasons.
"Oklahoma is one of the best teams in the country," Paulus said. "But frankly, it doesn't matter what they do. We need to focus on what we need to do. We need to go out and hit some sets and get good scores."
Burns feels the break from competition last week was good for his gymnasts. But he made sure they remained focused throughout training this past week.
"Sometimes it can throw your rhythm off if you are used to competing every week," Burns said. "So we had to make sure we didn't lose our sense of urgency in our training."
The Gophers took advantage of the week off by working hard in practices to perfect routines that needed some maintenance.
"The break was a really good chance for us to catch up on things that we have neglected over the weeks," junior Michael Paulus said. "We get into the pattern of doing routines every day and things don't really get perfected the way they should. So the week off gave us an opportunity to really work on our problem areas."
The Gophers look forward to competing on the road this week, hoping to bounce back after a tough loss at Illinois two weeks ago.
"It's always tough going on the road," Burns said. "But we have to use this as an opportunity to learn something about what it is going to take to really step up and hit on the road. That's what we're going to have to do in all our big championship meets."
Saturday's battle of highly-ranked squads begins at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the McCasland Center in Norman, Okla. Fans can watch this match via web streaming by clicking the "watch" button here.