The University of Minnesota has announced the 2008 competition schedule. The Gophers will host seven home meets during the season, highlighted by the 2008 NCAA North Central Region Championship on April 12. Minnesota will play host to the NCAA regional meet for the first time since 2000.
Minnesota continues the tradition of scheduling tough competition, as 14 of the Gophers’ 16 Division I opponents in the upcoming season advanced to an NCAA Regional Championship in 2007. Three teams that Minnesota will face in 2008 were top 10 national finishers in 2007, as Utah was the NCAA runner up, LSU finished seventh, and Oklahoma finished eighth at the national meet. The Big Ten Conference had five teams finish the 2007 season among the nation’s top 20, and looks to be strong again in the coming season.
The Gophers will kick off the season with a trip to Mexico for the fifth annual Cancun Invitational on January 5. Minnesota will be one of eight collegiate teams at the meet, along with Denver, Illinois State, LSU, Iowa, Texas Woman’s, West Virginia, and Wisconsin-Whitewater. In addition to the colleges and universities, the meet also features a club competition for Junior Olympic athletes.
The Gophers start the home competition schedule with New Hampshire on January 19, followed by the annual home dual meet against at Iowa State on January 26. While New Hampshire will be making its first trip to compete at Minnesota, the Iowa State Cyclones have competed at Minnesota each season since 1995.
The annual Best of Minnesota Meet, featuring all four collegiate women’s gymnastics programs in the state of Minnesota, will take place on Feb. 9 at the Sports Pavilion. Joining the Gophers will be Gustavus Adolphus, Hamline, and Winona State.
Minnesota rounds out the regular-season home schedule with meets against Illinois-Chicago on February 23, North Carolina on March 8, and Oklahoma on March 22. Both Illinois-Chicago and Oklahoma will be competing in the Sports Pavilion for the first time. The last time UIC competed at Minnesota was in the 1985 season, when the gymnastics team was competing in Williams Arena. Oklahoma is making its first trip to compete in the Twin Cities. North Carolina last competed at Minnesota in the 2002 season.
The Gophers will continue their annual competition against Utah, with the 2008 meet to take place on February 1 in Salt Lake City. Minnesota will also continue the tradition of making the trip to Iowa State, and will compete in Ames, Iowa on March 2.
Minnesota has scheduled two dual meets against Big Ten foes in the 2008 season, and both are away meets. The Gophers will travel to Michigan on Feb. 16, and will compete at Iowa on February 29.
Minnesota’s final road meet of the regular season will be at West Virginia on March 15. The Gophers will be paying a return visit to the Mountaineers, who competed at Minnesota in 2007.
The defending Big Ten champion, Michigan, will be the host school for the 2008 Big Ten Championship. The meet will be held at Crisler Arena on March 29.
The Gophers will host the 2008 NCAA North Central Region Championships at the Sports Pavilion. The competition will feature six teams, with the top two teams earning a trip to the NCAA Championships at Georgia on April 24-26. The regional meet will be on April 12, and will begin at 6 p.m.