No. 6 Minn. hoping to claim top Big Ten honors

The Gophers look to accomplish their goal of winning the Big Ten meet.

by Alexandra Pluym

The No. 6 Gophers menâÄôs gymnastics team has had an extra week to prepare to bring its best performance to the Big Ten championship April 2 and 3 in Columbus, Ohio. Minnesota head coach Mike Burns said the Gophers are ready to go out and try to prove they are the best in the Big Ten. âÄúWeâÄôre looking to win the Big Ten,âÄù he said. âÄúWeâÄôre going to bring our A+ game. ItâÄôll be tough. We get to see all the teams and who really is the best team in the Big Ten.âÄù In 2009, Minnesota finished fourth at the Big Ten meet with 348.0 points. Michigan and Illinois shared first place honors last season, tying with 357.10 points. Although the Gophers are currently ranked No. 4 in the Big Ten, they believe their progress and recent hard work can push them near the top of the conference. âÄúThe last couple weeks have gone pretty well,âÄù said Burns. âÄúWe made some good progress.âÄù Burns also said that last Friday the team competed in a âÄúmeet stimulationâÄù in preparation for the Big Ten meet. Some things Minnesota can rely on to help boost its scores at this weekendâÄôs meet are vault and floor exercises. The Gophers are ranked third in the nation on both events and expect to score well on the other four events. On the high bar, Minnesota will get some help from senior Aaron Fortunato, who is currently ranked No. 4 in the nation for the event, and No. 7 in the all around. Fortunato, who finished fifth in the all around in 200 9, said the team has performed well to this point, but the teamâÄôs biggest goals âÄî and his personal goals âÄî can still be reached. âÄúWe want to win [Big Ten] as a team,âÄù Fortunato said. âÄú[I want to] make the top 3 in the all around and on the high bar.âÄù Seniors Colin McGuire and Adam Reichow will also help push the Gophers toward a Big Ten title as they are tied for No. 7 nationally on floor exercise. Reichow is also No. 8 on vault. Burns said Minnesota will focus on the pommel horse and parallel bars for the remainder of this weekâÄôs practice because of some minor issues and trouble the team doesnâÄôt want to see at the Big Ten meet. âÄú[On] pommel horse there was some falling off, thatâÄôs not acceptable,âÄù he said. With a fairly strong regular season in the books, Fortunato is excited to fight for âÄúour number one goalâÄù this weekend. After the Gophers finish at the Big Ten meet they will prepare for the NCAA championship, which starts on Thursday, April 15, in West Point, N.Y.