Gophers head to NCAA regionals in Alabama

Brad Bobel

The Gophers have turned up the volume in Peik Gymnasium.
The team is playing loud music during practice this week in preparation for the NCAA Regionals this weekend.
“We’ve done a lot of simulations,” interim head coach Jenny Hansen. “We’ve got some really loud crowd noise, and we’re trying to simulate the environment as much as we can.”
Besides the music, the Gophers are treating every practice like a competition day.
“We’ve started on beam almost every day in practice and ended on bars, which is the same rotation order that we will have in regionals,” Hansen said.
The Gophers have ramped up their intensity during practices in response to their subpar performance two weekends ago in the Big Ten championship.
“I think we came back into the gym really motivated,” junior Lindsay Mable said. “We have a goal, and I don’t think anyone’s going to stop at anything until we [advance to the semifinals].”
The Gophers are trying to eliminate meet distractions during practice so they have a stronger ability to focus on their performances when the stakes get higher.
“Sometimes those things take a long time to develop,” Mable said. “The sooner you can develop those skills, stepping up and performing under pressure, the more potential it brings to the team.”
Though the underclassmen have contributed all season, they still have some nerves going into regionals.
“I think we are definitely nervous, but probably more excited,” freshman Ciara Gardner said. “I mean, it’s college. It’s more exciting than club. You don’t have as much pressure, you just go out there and do what you know how to do.”
While the freshmen don’t have NCAA postseason experience, they are led by teammates who do.
Last year, Mable and junior Hanna Nordquist both advanced to the national individual event finals for one event each.
“[The freshmen] really look to us for how to behave, what to expect and how to go in with your attitude,” Mable said. “If we can help them understand, then the result will come and be what we want it to be.”
The Gophers are the healthiest they’ve been all season and should be able to field their ideal lineup at the event.
“We’ve had a lot of obstacles come in our way, but [the gymnasts’] attitudes have been great,” Hansen said. “They know what they are capable of, and they haven’t reached that goal yet, so they’re still fighting.”