Gophers hoping off-season work pays off

All of the workouts, practices and hard work the menâÄôs Gophers gymnastics team has done this fall will start paying off today. And for this, the team couldnâÄôt be more enthused; especially when they have something to prove. âÄúOur coaches have really pushed us and challenged us to be the team that we can be,âÄù junior Adam Reichow said. Minnesota hosts the first of two Maroon-Gold Intrasquad meets this afternoon on the third floor of Cooke Hall, the site of daily practices through the fall. âÄúThe biggest thing is itâÄôs time to stop training and showing what we got,âÄù head coach Mike Burns said. The anticipation is high for the Gophers, who are ranked No. 8 in the preseason coachesâÄô poll. This is not what the team was expecting, however. âÄúRight now, weâÄôre not happy being ranked 8th, but itâÄôs OK that weâÄôre a little bit under the radar. People donâÄôt understand actually how good we are as a team,âÄù Reichow said. The Maroon-Gold meets will be the first opportunity to prove to each other what Minnesota is capable of for the 2009 season. And for Gophers gymnasts, itâÄôs more than being ranked higher than 8th in the coachesâÄô poll. ItâÄôs about being the best. For a team that has never won a championship, this seems to be the season for it. An experienced and accomplished team looks to the NCAA MenâÄôs Gymnastics Championships in April located at MinnesotaâÄôs own Sports Pavilion on campus. âÄúWe want to be in the second day of NCAA championships. We host it; our fans would like to see us all there. We donâÄôt want to let our fans down, we donâÄôt want to let our school down and most importantly weâÄôve been working really hard for this so we donâÄôt want to let ourselves down,âÄù Reichow said. To go there, it starts now. And there is no room for mistakes. âÄúOur level of desire for perfection is so high that it makes it a really precision-based sport. And thereâÄôs so little room for error,âÄù Burns said. Both meets are designed to get the team prepared for the dual meet season and even the Big Ten and NCAA championships later in the season. âÄúThe Big Ten championships and the NCAA championships are by far the best meets in the world,âÄù Burns said. The first dual meet will take place when the Gophers return from break in January and face Penn State. The team will suit up in maroon and gold for the meets, but there are no wins or losses. âÄúIf weâÄôre not quite ready in a few things, we can use the easier flow and things like that. ItâÄôs a first step,âÄù Burns said. The Intrasquad meets will not only add to the strength of this experienced team, showing where the strengths and weaknesses are, but will provide Minnesota with a reality check. âÄúThe key is how much icewater you have going through your veins. YouâÄôre going to get out there and be a performer. YouâÄôre going to get big or youâÄôre going to get small,âÄù Burns said. âÄúSo tomorrow is our first step of really seeing who is going to step up and get big and who might fall back and get small.âÄù