A weekend full of deja vu and Iowa opponents for men’s and women’s teams

The men face the Big Ten’s – and nation’s – best teams, while the women face Iowa State for the second time in three weeks.

by Andrew Baker

Coming off a season-high team score of 345.8 in its 13th-straight victory over the University of Illinois-Chicago, the No. 8 Minnesota menâÄôs gymnastics team will take on No. 10 Iowa and No. 5 Penn State in a triangular meet at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday.

It will be the GophersâÄô last home meet of the season, and will feature some of the top talent in the Big Ten and the nation.

The Nittany Lions feature 13 nationally ranked gymnasts and an average team score of 352.633. The Gophers, by comparison, have six ranked athletes and average 345.167 points per contest, while the Hawkeyes average 343.2.

With the Big Ten Championships a month away, the meet will give the three conference foes a chance to size each other up. The Gophers have met Iowa once this year already âÄî they won 336.5-330.1 in Iowa City on Feb. 11 âÄî and will meet for a third time March 19 in a triangular meet at Nebraska.

Last weekend in Chicago, the Gophers won four of the six events and tied in one, the high bar.

In the one event they lost, pommel horse, the absence of injured sophomore Harris Coleman was clearly felt.

Coleman injured his shoulder in the Feb. 11 meet against Iowa. He was ranked No. 13 in the pommel horse at the time.

Last year as a freshman, Coleman scored a team season high of 15.2 on the pommel horse at Penn State.

Women again face Iowa State

The No. 20 womenâÄôs team had a successful west coast trip last weekend, winning 195.3-188.725 at Cal State Fullerton on Friday and scoring 194.475 points to take second place out of three teams in a triangular meet at UCLA against the Bruins and Denver.

The Gophers will hit the road again this weekend to take on No. 19 Iowa State for the second time in three weeks.

They last faced each other Feb. 20 at the Sports Pavilion, in a tight 195.6-194.95 Gophers victory. In individual events, the Gophers are ranked No. 16 on bars, No. 14 on beam and No. 15 on floor.

The Cyclones, meanwhile, are ranked No. 12 on bars, No. 19 on beam and tied with the Gophers for No. 15 on floor.

Individual accolades abound for the Gophers, for veterans and newcomers alike.

Freshman Kayla Slechta is ranked No. 19 in the country on vault, an event she has won at six of the teamâÄôs nine competitions this year.

Senior Kendra Elm has won the all-around five times, while her fellow senior, team captain Kristin Furukawa, is averaging 9.806 on the uneven bars.

Sophomore Shannon Golich has won the floor exercise twice, while freshmen Dusti Russell and Justine Cherwink are both back in action after missing time with injuries âÄî though Cherwink, who is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in November, has only competed in exhibition so far.

The Gophers have just two meets remaining before they host the Big Ten Championships March 19.