The University of Minnesota men's gymnastics team has the week off as they prepare for the Big Ten Championships April 2-3 in Columbus, Ohio. To be accurate, the Gophers have the week off from competition, because they certainly aren't taking it easy as one of the biggest meets of the season approaches.
"This has been an amazing week in the gym, as we prepare for the Big Ten Championships next weekend," Burns said. "Just in the first two days of this week we did 105 routines and more than 40 percent of those were what we consider 'Championship Caliber' routines. I can't tell you how pleased I am with how good these guys look right now - talk about stepping up at the right time of the season."
If Minnesota performs well and improves upon last year's fourth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships, it is likely the Gophers will have received a boost from their lineups on the vault and floor exercise. Minnesota has climbed to a No. 3 ranking in the nation in both events.
"As we look forward to the Big Ten Championships we all know how critical it will be to have a great performance on all six events," Burns said. "We will need to capitalize on our strongest events - Floor Exercise and Vault."
While the Gophers expect to perform well in their two strongest events, they haven't written off the other four apparatus.
"We will really need to step up on our first two events of the meet - Pommel Horse and Still Rings," Burns said. "A championship meet like the Big Ten's can be decided by as little as one-tenth of a point so the philosophy of 'every tenth counts' can't be more true than it will be next week. Our guys will be fighting for every single tenth of a point on every single routine throughout the entire meet. It's going to be a great meet and I'm really excited for these young men."
In addition to Minnesota's national ranking on the floor and vault, the Gophers are ranked No. 6 overall as a team. The Gophers are in the top 10 overall on five of the six events, ranking No. 6 on both the parallel bars and high bar and No. 9 on the pommel horse.
Individually, Minnesota is led by senior Aaron Fortunato. The Nissen-Emery Award finalist is currently No. 4 in the nation on the high bar and No. 7 in the all around. Seniors Adam Reichow and Colin McGuire are tied for No. 7 in the country in the floor exercise. Reichow is also in the top 10 on the vault, coming in at No. 8.