Minnesota with a chance to take Big Ten by surprise

Big Ten menâÄôs gymnastics is as strong as ever this year, but this season itâÄôs up for grabs. And Minnesota wants it. Traditionally, Big Ten teams control and dominate the 18 teams that make up NCAA menâÄôs gymnastics. Last year, Penn State won the NCAA title, followed by Illinois and Ohio State. Still strong, the Big Ten has just had a bit of a mix-up this year. All six Big Ten teams remain within the top nine in the country. Penn State has dropped in the national rankings to No. 5 after losing several of its champions from 2008. And after being slated to win the Big Ten this year, Ohio State had a dismal performance at the Windy City Invitational. The Gophers beat out the No. 3 seeded and Big Ten favorite by a score of 341.400-337.650, moving up to a No. 6 national ranking. This has opened up the gap for teams like Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan, who won the Windy City Invite, to re-emerge as Big Ten contenders. âÄúEach program has their history, their ups and downs, and their years where they were strong. It kind of goes in cycles,âÄù head coach Mike Burns said. âÄúOur job right now, here at Minnesota is to get ourselves back at the top here. WeâÄôre chipping away; itâÄôs a tough conference.âÄù Junior Adam Reichow recalls a time when he once saw an Iowa team tear apart the Gophers. Now, the No. 9 seeded Hawkeyes seem unlikely to come anything close to a Big Ten title. But according to Reichow, nothing is certain this year. âÄúItâÄôs gymnastics; anything can happen on any given day,âÄù Reichow said. Minnesota has continued to gain confidence early in the season. Led by pre-season All-Big Ten gymnasts Cole Storer and senior captain Kit Beikmann, the Gophers plan on winning the Big Ten championship this year. âÄúI think that everyone sees that weâÄôre legitimately set and have a chance of winning the Big Ten and being at the top of the NCAAs,âÄù Beikmann said. Beikmann, an All-American as a sophomore and Big Ten runner-up last year on the pommel horse, looks to reclaim his conference title and help lead his team to a Big Ten title of their own. Storer, another senior leader, is another All-American with something to reclaim for the 2009 season. Last year he was the NCAA runner-up on high bar and a finalist on the vault. âÄú[ColeâÄôs] the kind of guy who has the potential to put up some big scores and some very routines,âÄù Burns said.