Beikmann seeks national title

Gophers gymnast Kit Beikmann looks to regain pride after a disappointing finish at last year’s NCAA championships.

Brittany Storoz

After a disappointing fifth place finish at his final NCAA championships earlier this year, gymnast Kit Beikmann will be seeking to regain some of his honor at the Visa Championships in Dallas, Texas . The Visa Championships, which begin Wednesday, will determine the U.S. national team and U.S. champions. Among the competing athletes are eight members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team . âÄúThe nice thing about this meet is itâÄôs pretty much a repeat of NCAAâÄôs so thereâÄôs some lost pride to get back,âÄù Beikmann said. Beikmann was the Big Ten champion on pommel horse in 2007 and the runner-up in both 2008 and 2009. He will be competing in the same event this week, beginning preliminary competition on Wednesday. Though this is BeikmannâÄôs first time competing at the Visa Championships, he said he is less nervous for this meet than a typical college meet, as the pressures are more focused on himself and not his team. âÄúWhat always made me nervous in college was the fact that the team depends on you, and with my score, if I messed up I would hurt the team pretty bad,âÄù Beikmann said. âÄúAt this meet, if I were to mess up or anything, thereâÄôs really no pressure.âÄù Minnesota menâÄôs head coach Mike Burns said he is confident of BeikmannâÄôs performance this week because of the impressive practices heâÄôs been putting in recently. âÄúThis past week heâÄôs really honed in on this level of excellence thatâÄôs really been fun to watch,âÄù Burns said. âÄúItâÄôs really boosted his confidence level, and he can rely on this confidence and preparation.âÄù Beikmann came to the Gophers gymnastics program as a walk-on, and ended his career as a Big Ten Champion, a two time All-American, and the recipient of the teamâÄôs Most Outstanding Career Award in 2009. âÄúAs far as what he did as an athlete, heâÄôs a guy with a lot of the right stuff,âÄù Burns said. âÄúHeâÄôs really the essence of college gymnastics. HeâÄôs kind of the posterboy of hard work and dedication.âÄù BeikmannâÄôs teammates also recognize his hard work. âÄúThe reason why KitâÄôs made it to be so successful is because year after year heâÄôs consistently the hardest working person in the gym,âÄù junior teammate Michael Paulus said. âÄúAs far as I know, in the four years heâÄôs been here, heâÄôs never missed even an optional practice.âÄù Senior gymnast Thomas OâÄôBrien said BeikmannâÄôs work ethic and passion for the sport made him a good team leader his senior year when he served as a co-captain with teammate Aaron Fortunato. âÄúKit was a really good person to practice with especially doing pommel horse because we always challenged each other,âÄù OâÄôbrien said. âÄúHe was great motivation when youâÄôre working out.âÄù Joining Beikmann at Visa Championships is former Minnesota teammate Guillermo Alvarez , who will be taking part in the all-around competition. âÄúIt would be real intimidating to go there without anyone,âÄù Beikmann said. âÄúItâÄôs cool to have Guillermo competing with me, and it makes it a little easier to go somewhere else. HeâÄôs been a familiar face forever.âÄù The two former Gophers left for Texas on Monday to prepare for competition, Beikmann with specific goals already in mind. âÄúMy bottom level goal is just to qualify to second day, but if I do, if I hit, thereâÄôs a chance that I can win it,âÄù Beikmann said. Second-day competition for the men will be held on Friday.A good second-day performance could earn Beikmann a spot on the U.S. MenâÄôs Team for the 2009 World Championships, which will be held in London this October.