With a pre-season coaches poll ranking of No. 8 in the country, our team is pretty motivated to prove the pollsters are wrong in their perception of the 2009 Golden Gopher Gymnastics squad. When I announced to the team we were ranked No. 8 in the pre-season polls there was a definite tone of resentment to that number.
This team is focused and determined to be competing for the National Team Title in the NCAA Team Finals that will be held right here at the Sports Pavilion exactly 161 days from this writing (April 17, 2009). The day before (April 16th) will be the qualifying round to make it into the team finals and we will need to be in the top three in our session. This is always the toughest meet, because so much is on the line and we will need to get any and all Gopher Gymnastics fans in the bleachers at the Sports Pavilion that night to really cheer us on. Having the meet here at home is a huge advantage for us and I look forward to a very partisan hometown crowd beign on hand!
Our pre-season training is going very well. Every day we spend training up on the third floor of Cooke Hal,l we get one day closer to the NCAA Championships. We obviously need to go through our entire dual meet season before getting to that point. But our plans are all revolving around peak performances in our Championship Meet season (Big Tens April 3-4 and NCAAs April 16-18). We start our competition season in mid-January with the 35th Annual Windy City Invitational, which is held at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Head Coach CJ Johnson runs a great competition every year and when he came to our wedding at the McNamara Alumni Center with his wife Jeannie back in July we had a chance to visit without too much talk about gymnastics. That will obviously change when the meet starts in his gym on January 17th and the 2009 Men’s Gymnastics Season gets under way. We will actually be holding our annual Alumni Meet at the Sports Pavilion on Friday, January 9th as a warm-up meet for the Windy City Invitational.
Our first home meet will be in conjunction with our Annual Minnesota Gymnastics Hall of fame Banquet that we run with the Women’s Gopher Gymnastics team every January. The Hall of Fame banquet will be held on January 23rd. The next day we will compete is a four-way meet with the likes of Arizona State, the University of Washington and our friends from the North, the University of Calgary. This should be a great meet for the Gophers and our first opportunity to compete at home for a counting score.
The following week, we bring 2008 Big Ten Champions Penn State in for the first of three very challenging home meets. They will be a very tough team again this year, but we are looking forward to facing them early in the season with them competing on the road. The Sports Pavilion can be a tough place for visiting teams to compete and if our great crowds continue to grow it can be a real advantage for us.
The month of February has the Gophers on the road the entire month. In the next edition of the Burns Blog I will talk about the challenges of February’s schedule and then talk about the home stretch of our meets in March as we lead up to the really big meets at the end of the season.
In the meantime, let’s continue to support our 7-2 football team, especially tomorrow as they take on the Wolverines of the University of Michigan. Good luck to Coach Brewster and the entire football team in the final game between these two teams in the Metrodome. I know I’m not alone in my desire to bring that Little brown Jug back to its rightful home!
-Mike Burns, Head Men's Gymnastics Coach