Burns hoping for “quality” performance as the Gophers host top-2 teams in the nation

Coach Mike Burns has wanted two things from his gymnasts this week in practice: quality vs. quantity routines, and deduction reduction. Burns definitely got what he wanted. By quality routines, Burns said he has seen more check marks on the whiteboard hanging in Cooke Hall . By deduction reduction, Burns has seen his gymnasts constantly eliminating mistakes that have previously prevented high scores. To say the least, itâÄôs been a successful week. âÄúThis has probably been the best week of practice weâÄôve had all year. The quality has gone up tremendously,âÄù Burns said. Burns can only wait and see if his gymnasts are just as successful this weekend âÄî their biggest weekend yet. This sort of attention to detail in performance is exactly what No. 7 Minnesota needs when they host the top two teams in the country on Saturday night, No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 Oklahoma. âÄúWeâÄôve started to come to the point now where weâÄôre hitting our routines with consistency, now itâÄôs focusing on hitting them well,âÄù junior captain Aaron Fortunato said. It will be their first home-meet since the Gophers beat Penn State in the depths of winter on January 31. Fortunato said this was one of the biggest wins for the team this year. Penn State was the best competition Minnesota had seen at home this season, especially with one of the nationâÄôs top gymnasts on hand, Casey Sandy . But now, the Gophers face even better gymnasts from the very best in the nation. Burns realizes the quality of teams traveling to the Sports Pavilion. He doesnâÄôt want this to detract from the quality of his guys, however. âÄúWe got to make sure we donâÄôt get caught up in âÄòwow, look at how good they are,âÄôâÄù Burns said. âÄúWeâÄôre every bit as good as they are. I think weâÄôre ready to bust loose.âÄù Burns said the Gophers will act as a David going up against Goliath teams, like the Cardinal and Sooners. But like David had accuracy in defeating Goliath, the men will need accuracy in their own routines. Fortunato said it more plainly. âÄúWeâÄôre right there neck and neck [with Stanford and Oklahoma],âÄù he said. The meet will be NCAA championship format, with three other junior college teams alternating events with the Division I schools. The meet will also have an NCAA championship atmosphere. All three teams will have the chance to showcase themselves in front of thousands of fans on the Big Ten Network . All teams are using it as preparation for gymnasticsâÄô big dance at the Sports Pavilion in just over a month. In fact, itâÄôs the reason Stanford and Oklahoma are coming. The Gophers, on the other hand, can take this weekend for all itâÄôs worth, without even having to leave again. âÄúWhat a great opportunity for everybody around the country to see what weâÄôre doing here at Minnesota,âÄù Burns said. After having some fun last weekend, GophersâÄô womenâÄôs gymnastics wants to keep the same upbeat attitude in their last away meet of the regular season at No. 10 Arkansas tonight. âÄúWe know that if we go in and weâÄôre relaxed and we have fun doing our gymnastics, weâÄôre going to do well,âÄù co-head coach Meg Stephenson said. WomenâÄôs preview With only two days of practice and tough competition, the women have their work cut out for them on the road. Minnesota can only focus on their level of performance, and it looks to be top quality this weekend. Senior captain Carmelina Carabajal is at full strength and co-captain Alexis Russell is coming off her best career meet last weekend. âÄúWe typically like to go in there and compete against teams that are ranked ahead of us.âÄù âÄúWe feel confident we can handle it,âÄù Stephenson said. ,