The 2010 season for the University of Minnesota men's gymnastics team ended with a roster full of seven seniors, all taking their unique talents with them after they left.
It's difficult for any collegiate team to be able to replace veteran talent, but in the Gophers' case, it was exponentially more difficult when more than one-third of the roster wturned over.
Enter the eight freshman gymnasts who are featured on this season's Minnesota squad.
Looking back as the Gophers prepare for their final regular season meet this Saturday at Nebraska, the transition has not exactly been seamless, but Minnesota has been able to maintain its usual high standard of competition while featuring a very young roster.
"We've gotten amazing results from the freshmen," Minnesota head coach Mike Burns said. "They've been a huge part of our team's success and I'm really excited about our future with these guys."
Many of the eight newcomers have been contributors on various events, including John Scallon who has been ranked as high as No. 6 nationally on the pommel horse. Other contributing freshmen include Steffen Beck, Matt Frey and Adam Kern.
Yet none have contributed more this season than Zack Chase, who has been a key part of the Gophers' scoring throughout the season. Chase has already been named Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice and is currently ranked No. 3 in the country on the vault and No. 15 on the floor exercise.
"I just try to make a positive progression each meet," Chase said. "Some weeks go better than others, but I make each meet a learning experience."
While Chase and the other freshmen have been able to make the best out of the opportunities given them, there remains a learning curve for all of them to adjust to being part of a college team.
"The schedule is definitely more taxing that what I've been used to, and we all get a little banged up, but luckily I've been able to stay fairly healthy and been able to compete each week," Chase said.
Adjusting to college life is a transition for all new freshmen, yet for this group of gymnasts, gaining the standard 15 pounds is out of the question to remain in competitive shape. While many aspects of their lives are different than that of other freshmen, they are still making sure to enjoy every moment that comes their way.
"It's a bit different," Chase said of how his freshman experience varies from other college newcomers. "But the team hangs out a lot and I enjoy the travel and getting to see new places. I'm certainly having a good time."
-By Keith Beise, Athletic Communications Assistant