The University of Minnesota has announced the 2010 women’s gymnastics competition schedule. The Golden Gophers will host six regular-season home meets at the Sports Pavilion during the season, plus the annual intrasquad exhibition meet.
Minnesota continues the tradition of scheduling tough competition, as every one of the Gophers’ Division I opponents in the upcoming season advanced to an NCAA Regional Championship in 2009. Three teams that Minnesota will face in 2010 were among the 12 qualifying teams for last season’s NCAA Championship: Arkansas, Penn State and Illinois.
The Big Ten Conference was one of the strongest in the nation last season, and boasted six teams that finished the 2009 campaign ranked among the top 30 in the nation and two that qualified for the NCAA Championship. Minnesota will face each of its Big Ten opponents on March 27, 2010, at the Big Ten Championship, which will be hosted by Ohio State. The Gophers will also face all but one Big Ten opponent in dual meets during the regular season, with two of those matchups taking place at home in the Sports Pavilion.
The Golden Gophers, who finished the 2009 season ranked No. 28 in the nation, will kick off the 2010 campaign with the annual intrasquad exhibition competition on Monday, January 4. The meet serves as a practice run at the beginning season to prepare the team for regular-season competition. The Golden Gophers begin the regular season at home, facing Denver on January 9. Denver finished the 2009 season ranked No. 18.
Minnesota’s first road meet of the season will be to Lincoln, Neb, to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Sunday, January 17. Nebraska finished 2009 as the No. 17 team in the nation. Next, the Golden Gophers will return home to face their first Big Ten opponent when they host Michigan State on January 23, a team that earned a final 2009 ranking of No. 22. The Golden Gophers will continue with meets against conference opponents, heading to Penn State for a competition on January 30. Penn State should prove to be a tough opponent, as they qualified for the NCAA Championship last season and finished 2009 ranked ninth in the nation.
Moving into February, the Golden Gophers will host the annual Always Dreaming Best of Minnesota Meet on February 6. The Always Dreaming Best of Minnesota is a competition featuring all four of the collegiate women’s gymnastics teams in the state of Minnesota: Gustavus, Hamline, Winona State, and the Gophers. The Best of Minnesota is one of the best-attended competitions each season. The meet is named Always Dreaming in honor of former Minnesota athletics compliance director Frank Kara, and will serve as a fundraising and awareness campaign for cancer research.
Minnesota will return to competition against Big Ten foes with a meet at Michigan on Feb. 13 and a home meet against Illinois on Feb. 20. Both Michigan and Illinois finished the 2009 season strong, earning final rankings of No. 14 and No. 12, respectively. Illinois earned its inaugural trip to the NCAA Championships last season.
On Friday, February 26, Minnesota will travel to compete at Iowa State, and will move on to a meet at Iowa on Sunday, February 28. Following the tour of Iowa, the Gophers will return to the Sports Pavilion to host Arkansas on March 6. Last season, Arkansas earned its highest national finish, coming in fifth at the NCAA Championships.
The Golden Gophers will then head to Tucson, Ariz., to compete against the Arizona Wildcats on March 12 before rounding out the 2010 regular season with a home meet against Iowa State on March 20. Minnesota will compete in the Big Ten Championship on March 27 at Ohio State.
If the Golden Gophers finish the regular season among the top 36 teams in the national rankings, they will advance to an NCAA Regional Championship. The six schools hosting regional championships in 2009 are Kentucky, Missouri, Penn State, UCLA, Utah and West Virginia. The top two teams from each regional championship will earn a berth in the 2010 NCAA Championship, which will be hosted by the University of Florida.