Men, women show vast improvement

In a pair of home meets, both teams solidified first-place finishes.

Gopher Womens Hockey vs. North Dakota

Image by Ian Larson

Gopher Women’s Hockey vs. North Dakota

by Lexi Pluym

In the Gophers menâÄôs gymnastics teamâÄôs first home meet since the NCAA Championship last year, they showed that they may still have some unfinished business from a season ago. Minnesota appeared right at home at the Sports Pavilion, winning with a score of 343.250, while Arizona State finished behind the Gophers with 316.650 points. Washington ended the meet in third with 293.650 points . Apparently, few things have changed since these three teams faced each other last season, with Minnesota taking the meet as well (Calgary also competed). Senior Aaron Fortunato, who won the all-around, said that the meets against Arizona State and Washington are always fun. âÄúItâÄôs cool because one of the ASU guys here is from Minnesota, so we get a lot of fans here,âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs always just a fun meet, and itâÄôs always a relaxed one.âÄù The entire team also had a lot more success this week than they had at the Windy City Invitational , improving in all events with the exception of the rings. Minnesota head coach Mike Burns said the team has improved on the pommel horse and parallel bars, but thereâÄôs still room for improvement. âÄúPommel horse we did a little better than last week, but IâÄôm not happy with it,âÄù Burns said. Burns also said that right now theyâÄôre already training for the end of the year, and theyâÄôve got the routines that they can handle. âÄúI donâÄôt want to pull the plug yet and dumb-down on the routines,âÄù he said. âÄúI think weâÄôve got the routines we can handle.âÄù Women also excel After a difficult weekend in Nebraska, the Gophers womenâÄôs gymnastics team made big improvements just in time for their first Big Ten head-to-head meet. Minnesota improved in all four events, besting No. 19 Michigan State with 195.350 points. Michigan State finished with a score of 193.350. On the uneven bars, the Gophers improved their score from last week by .175 points. They also welcomed back an unfamiliar face on the bars who helped boost the score. Junior Jamie Bullock was back on the bar lineup for the first time since injuring her foot during the 2007 season. Bullock scored an impressive 9.85 on the bars. Bullock said that she was ready to return to the team because she is âÄúa competitor.âÄù âÄúI love competing, so I donâÄôt get nervous,âÄù she said. âÄúItâÄôs what I love to do.âÄù Minnesota head coach Meg Stephenson was impressed with more than BullockâÄôs bar routine. âÄúSheâÄôs just a really amazing athlete and competitor,âÄù Stephenson said. The teamâÄôs success was influenced by the length of time they had to practice this week compared to last week, Stephenson said. âÄúWe had four days instead of two,âÄù she said. âÄúIt was really nice to be able to go back to basics and clean a few things up.âÄù The Gophers will see another Big Ten opponent next weekend, with a Saturday meet scheduled to start at 6 p.m. against Penn State and Alabama in State College, Pa.