Gophers trying to end losing skid to alums

Mark Heise

Despite improving its season-high score by two full points last weekend, the Minnesota men’s gymnastics team might be facing a challenge it just can’t overcome this weekend.

The Gophers face the alumni team this Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion, trying to add another quality score to their résumé, while at the same time knocking off the alumni for the first time in quite a while.

“We’ve been trying to beat the alumni for the past eight years,” assistant coach Konstantin Kolesnikov said. “So maybe we’ll finally get them this season. But other than that, this meet is really an opportunity to try out some new skills.”

Minnesota plans to give all of its gymnasts a chance to perform, keeping everyone healthy during this showcase event.

“It’s more of a laid-back atmosphere,” junior Sergei Dmitriev said. “We’re just trying to stay safe this weekend while still pushing it to where we want to be at this point in the season.”

At the same time, the Gophers will try to work on a few things, including getting used to the rotation used during the Big Ten Championships. Minnesota will begin the meet on rings instead of its usual start on pommel horse.

“It will definitely help,” senior Jake Lee said. “Going into Big Tens and starting on still rings for the first time could really be a shock to your body. I think trying it out this week will give us a chance to know what we can handle.”

Aside from that, the team has been working to improve on the rings specifically, as it has been a weak spot compared to the Gophers’ competition.

“We’re really trying to improve our rings. It’s probably the event we’re struggling the most on, so we’re going to focus on getting that where it needs to be,” Dmitriev said. “But we’re on the right track and I’m confident that we’ll be where we need to be by the end of the season.”

Women to Iowa

The Gophers travel to Iowa State for a meet at 7 tonight and will try to continue their upward trend in the scoring department.

For Minnesota, it will be the second time facing the 10th-ranked Cyclones. The Gophers lost to Iowa State earlier in the year, 194.4-194.525.

Minnesota is coming off of a very strong meet in three of four events, while struggling on the balance beam for the second week in a row, posting a season-low score of 47.65.

The Gophers made up for it on the vault and the floor, however, leading coach Meg Stephenson to believe this weekend will result in a positive outcome.

“Our last two meets, we’ve really had better performances, and I think that will help us going into the meet,” she said.

“The team has really been coming together, and I think we’re back to heading in the right direction.”