Rested and ready, Minnesota hosts Nebraska and Temple at Sports Pavilion for three-team home meet

Luke Middendorf

After being idle for two of the last three weekends, the No. 8 Minnesota men’s gymnastics team should come into Saturday’s three-team meet against Nebraska and Temple rested and ready to compete.

Two Gophers gymnasts that head coach Mike Burns said have benefited from the extra time off are sophomores Michael Hillin and Aaron Fortunato. Fortunato is Minnesota’s top all-around performer in his second year, while Hillin participated in the all-around for the first time on Feb. 16.

Hillin competed in just one meet as a freshman before breaking his hand last season, but his work ethic over the summer and especially lately has made Hillin a “pleasant addition to the lineup this year,” Burns said.

The extra practice time also meant more intra-squad competition for the Gophers, allowing Minnesota’s gymnasts to work on finishing their routines strong and landing dismounts, according to Burns.

While Saturday’s meet is the first three-team home meet of the season, Burns said that it shouldn’t phase the Gophers and might be a more exciting environment for the spectators.

“It’s just more activity and more stuff for the fans to see, which is kind of cool,” Burns said.

The Cornhuskers and Owls are nationally ranked right behind the Gophers at ninth and 10th respectively, which Burns said should provide a meet that goes right down to the wire.

Nebraska has not won a meet away from their own gym this season, currently sitting at 0-6 on the road. But Burns said their poor away record means the Cornhuskers will be that much more primed to get their first road victory during Saturday’s tri-meet.

“Our guys are going to have to make sure that nobody comes into our house and walks away with a win,” Burns said. “Our main focus this weekend is to get out there and do a good enough job to stay ahead of both Nebraska and Temple. I think if we do our job, we should be able to handle both of them.”

Women swing through Iowa for two road meets

The No. 27 ranked Minnesota women’s gymnastics team heads south of the state border this weekend for a Friday evening meet with No. 23 Iowa, followed by a Sunday afternoon match-up with No. 30 Iowa State.

Gophers co-head coach Meg Stephenson said that Minnesota participates in a two-meet weekend every other year, and that her team will get a good chance to rest and bond with each other on the Saturday between two competitive match-ups.

The Gophers should have nearly a full lineup this weekend for the first time all season, a luxury that senior Ashley Stanton said is one of the most vital aspects to competing to the best of the team’s ability.

“The coaches always talk about keeping everyone healthy, and we should be ready to go this weekend,” Stanton said. “We (Minnesota) really think that we can sneak up on these two teams this weekend and get a couple of wins.”