Women host Best of Minnesota meet at Pavilion, men go on road for Michigan

Women’s gymnastics hosts three Minnesota schools Saturday at the Pavilion.

by Matt Perkins

Minnesota’s women’s gymnastics team’s worst score this season was 188.150 at an intrasquad meet to kick off the season.

This weekend, the Gophers host the Best of Minnesota meet at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Sports Pavilion, and their competition’s best score of the season is more than 20 points worse than a rusty 188.

But that isn’t a distraction for the 20th-ranked Gophers, as they intend to use the meet to practice blocking out any and all distractions.

“It’s not really a factor where we are trying to win,” senior Laura Johnson said. “It’s just trying to make everything perfect in a meet and keeping that focus.”

Last weekend the Gophers “underachieved” at the Foxrun Invitational in New Hampshire, co-coach Jim Stephenson said.

Johnson’s hopes of improvement this weekend were incredibly simple ” stay on the beam.

As a team, the Gophers are hoping to improve upon last weekend’s disappointment ” a second place finish ” by increasing the difficulty of their routines.

And Stephenson said he expects much better results even with increased difficulties.

But he said the most important thing is that they perform while paying little attention to what the other teams are doing.

“Dual meets are one thing, but then you get these competitions with multiple teams and it’s like a three-ring circus,” Stephenson said. “In this sport you never want to pay attention to your competition, and you don’t want to let anything distract you.”

Stephenson said the team has done a fine job maintaining focus so far this season.

“It’s amazing as a coach when you see your athletes doing exactly what you want them to do,” Stephenson said. “It’s all about practicing staying in our bubble.”

Men travel to Michigan

Minnesota’s men’s gymnastics team faces arguably its toughest opponent of the season this weekend as the Gophers travel to take on Michigan.

Ninth-ranked Minnesota was off last weekend and took the extra time to prepare for the eighth-ranked Wolverines.

“Every time we go into a competition we expect to win,” coach Mike Burns said. “But this weekend we face tough competition in Michigan.”

Burns said that any time you’re on the road early in the season it’s going to be hard, but it makes it that much more difficult against an opponent like Michigan.

However, the Gophers being on the road won’t be a factor.

“This is a sport where athletes have to concentrate on their routine and their routine alone,” Burns said. “It’s not going to matter the environment as long as we are able to execute.”