10.0 bench mark is out as new scoring system in play

The Gophers will have an opportunity to take advantage of the sytem this weekend.

If someone would have told Minnesota men’s gymnastics head coach Mike Burns four years ago that all of his gymnasts would eventually score higher than a 10.0 in their event, Burns probably would have called that person ludicrous.

But flash forward to 2008 and now all NCAA men’s gymnastics programs have implemented a new system of scoring, one that is open-ended and a different experience for gymnasts and fans alike.

“The 10.0 bench mark of perfection in the past has been thrown out the window,” Burns said. “A lot of people in the stands are saying, ‘What’s going on?’ But you adjust pretty quickly after watching for a while.”

The change in scoring comes after the International Gymnastics Federation instituted an open-ended Code of Points following the 2005 season. After three years of debate, the NCAA Coaches Association voted to adopt these new rules in their entirety for the 2008 competitive season.

Burns admits being skeptical at first about the change, but said he eventually realized by going with the FIG Code of Points that the NCAA would be more in line with what was happening all over the world.

NCAA men’s gymnasts are now judged on two components of their performance: an A and B score.

The A score is made up of the value of the top 10 skills a gymnast performs in his routine based on difficulty, while the key to the B score is trying to preserve as much of the original 10.0 points by making as few errors as possible.

“It’s like starting your semester with a 4.0 GPA and trying to keep that as high as possible by the end of the semester,” Burns said in relation to the B score. “It’s really a paradigm shift at how we look at our scores.”

While Burns said his gymnasts average about a 14.2 on each event, senior Mitchell Mays gives the Gophers a large advantage with a 16.550 average in the vault.

Mays, who is ranked No. 1 in the country in the vault, receives such a high score in part because of the degree of difficulty of his vault, but also because of the precision with which he performs it.

“(Mays) seems to have mastered it pretty well,” Burns said of the vault. “It’s tough stuff and a stressful vault.”

Mays and the No. 7 ranked Gophers will get the chance to put the new scoring system to the test during their first home meet of the season Saturday at the Sports Pavilion, a border battle with Calgary at 1 p.m.

When asked if he expects a hostile environment for the international competition, Burns said, “Did you say hostility or hospitality? We want to show them hospitality, but we are not going to bend over and let them walk all over us. We want to make sure the Dinosaurs stay extinct.”

Women to compete at six

While the Gophers women’s gymnastics team will not be adapting to a new scoring system during their home meet on Saturday, injuries may cause them to make some changes of their own.

During last Sunday’s home meet, sophomore Alexis Russell injured her right knee on a vault attempt.

Freshman Yuri Nagai stepped up and performed well in Russell’s place for the bars and the floor exercise, but co-head coach Meg Stephenson said things are still up in the air for Saturday’s match up with Iowa State and beyond.

“Yuri did a wonderful job on bars,” Stephenson said. “On floor I’m not sure who we’ll go with; we will make that decision later in the week. We are still enthusiastic about Alexis (Russell) doing well this season.”

Because of the Minnesota Gymnastics Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday in Minneapolis, the men’s and women’s gymnastics squads will perform one after the other Saturday afternoon in the Sports Pavilion. The men will start at 1 p.m. with the women following at 6 p.m.

“It’s really great to support each other and it’s very motivating for both teams,” Stephenson said of Saturday’s meets. “We’ll use this to our advantage.”