Minnesota men starting to find some consistency

Last week wasnâÄôt much fun for Gophers menâÄôs gymnasts. After placing sixth at the Pacific Coast Classic on Feb. 21 with their second-lowest score of the season, Minnesota returned to their usual selves this past Saturday in Chicago. Inconsistency problems amid stiff competition from the best in college gymnastics held the Gophers from staying even with teams like California, Stanford and Michigan in Oakland , Calif., last week. Nearly every Minnesota gymnast was affected by poor performances, according to head coach Mike Burns. âÄúThe inconsistency bug didnâÄôt just bite a few of them last week,âÄù Burns said. âÄú[WeâÄôre] trying to get our arms around a little more consistent performance.âÄù According to Burns, after last weekâÄôs meet, the men were severely disappointed, so they knew that this past weekend was the time to turn it around in Chicago. âÄúThese guys are pretty proud, pretty full of pride. TheyâÄôre not going to sit back and allow themselves to be embarrassed or upset about a poor performance,âÄù Burns said. There was, indeed, a turnaround. The men had season-highs on the pommel horse and still rings Saturday to put up their second-highest score of the season, a 348.450. They easily handled the completion, beating the University of Illinois-Chicago by more 10 points (338.150). Senior captain Kit Beikmann continued his dominance of the pommel horse from last week, again scoring more than 15 for his career-best. âÄúHe blasted into the realm of Big Ten All-American-type gymnastics, right now. HeâÄôs coming into his stride, right now,âÄù Burns said. Other leaders, like junior Cole Storer , had great weekends this past Saturday. Storer, who, according to Burns, probably had his worst career performance last week, changed some things. âÄúWhen he has a bad meet, he digs down deep and figures out how to fix it,âÄù Burns said. Storer had excellent floor and vault routines. Even after improvements this past weekend, coach Burns and the rest of the Gophers want more as they approach the Big Tens. Mainly, they want more consistency and a break of the 350 point mark. MinnesotaâÄôs schedule should provide them with the opportunity to do just that. After being on the road all of February, the Gophers have two more home meets before the Big Tens. âÄúItâÄôs going to help us get our game plan back to focusing on consistency and really pushing the top score upward,âÄù Burns said. Junior Alexis Russell won MVP honors Saturday night to lead Gophers womenâÄôs gymnastics to a solid second-straight showing after a collapse at Iowa State. They defeated Northern Illinois, 195.85-192.975. Russell, the âÄúmost vital performerâÄù and all-around champion against the Huskies, is at the top of her career. Her score of 39.45 was a career best. But Russell, always with high expectations, wants even more. âÄúIâÄôm really happy with how my progress is, but I still have more that I need to keep working on.âÄù Minnesota has been plagued by unfortunate injuries in the past week. But Saturday, they just created a fun atmosphere âÄî and at exactly the right time. The Big Tens are only three weeks away. âÄúSometimes, in the middle of the season, you forget that itâÄôs fun, and I think they just got back on track with loving what they do and loving to compete âĦâÄù co-head coach Meg Stephenson said.