Dec. 23, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS - The Golden Gopher men's gymnastics team spent the fall semester preparing for its upcoming season. Head coach Mike Burns took a look at the Gophers' 2014 slate.
"It's been a good fall," Burns said about his team's preseason training. "You're always looking at the things you need to fix, the things that aren't ready, things that aren't quite where you need them to be, and it's really easy to overlook the the things that are going well. But with our team right now, there are a lot of things that are going really well."
The Gophers are gearing up for regular season action, starting with their alumni meet on Saturday, Jan. 11.
"The alumni meet is the team's dress rehearsal for the regular season," Burns said. "It's great for us to get out there and do our routines in front of judges at the Sports Pavilion."
After the alumni meet, the Gophers head to Chicago for the Windy City Invitational hosted by the University of Illinois-Chicago. This year marks the 44th annual running of the nation's oldest and largest regular-season men's gymnastics meet.
"The Windy City is our annual kick-off meet, which has all of the Big Ten schools except Penn State and Nebraska," Burns said. "It runs kind of like Big Tens, with six events going on at a time. It's a good way to kick the season off and see where you stack up against the other Big Ten schools."
Next, the Gophers host two meets at the Sports Pavilion, beginning with UIC and Oklahoma, the 2013 national runner-up, on Saturday, Jan. 25. The following weekend, the Gophers welcome Illinois and Nebraska to the Sports Pavilion.
"That will be another good indication of where we are in the Big Ten," Burns said. "Illinois has some good freshmen, so they will be strong. Nebraska did not lose much from last year, so they will challenge us as well."
After two straight home meets, the Gophers travel to Colorado Springs, Colo., to face off against Air Force.
"That's always a fun trip, to get out to the Rocky Mountains and see that area," Burns said. "Air Force is a strong team, and they're constantly getting better."
The week after their trip to Colorado, the Gophers travel to Iowa to square off against Iowa and Nebraska.
After the Iowa meet, Gophers Steve Jaciuk (New Berlin, Wis.) and Ellis Mannon (Indianapolis) head to the Winter Cup in Las Vegas Feb. 20-22. The pair qualified for the meet at last summer's P&G Championships.
After the Winter Cup, the Gophers hit the road for the fourth week in a row to take on Penn State.
"Penn State is always a tough place to compete," Burns said.
On Saturday, March 8, the team returns to the Sports Pavilion for Senior Night and its final home meet of the season against Iowa and Brockport.
"Brockport is one of the higher level club programs, so we like to support what they're doing and bring them out for competition," Burns said.
The Gophers will honor their eight seniors, Steffen Beck (Tampa, Fla.), Zack Chase (Woodinville, Wash.), Nathan Fortunato (Bedford, Ohio), Matt Frey (Lakewood Ranch, Fla.), Adam Kern (Albuquerque, N.M.), Justin Morinishi (Chesterfield, Mo.), John Scallon (Arlington Heights, Ill.) and Sam Wright (Lafayette, Colo.) at the Sports Pavilion.
The final regular season meet for the Gophers will be a five-team meet against familiar foes Nebraska, Iowa, Air Force and Illinois.
"We'll see Nebraska for the third time, Iowa for the third time, Illinois for the third time and Air Force for the second time," Burns said.
The Big Ten Championships will take place March 28-29 in Lincoln, Neb., marking Nebraska's first time hosting the event. The NCAA qualifying round is slated for April 10, with the NCAA Championships taking place April 11-12 at Michigan. The Gophers just missed moving on from the qualifier last year.
Check back to GopherSports.com next week for an event-by-event breakdown of the 2014 Gopher squad.
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