Heading into break, Minnesota already looking ahead to April

As winter is in full swing, April seems light years away. Not for Gophers gymnasts, however. Out to prove the critics and the unsuspecting wrong, it seems Minnesota gymnasts could sneak up and surprise anyone at any time. âÄúItâÄôs OK that weâÄôre a little bit under the radar,âÄù junior Adam Reichow said. âÄúItâÄôs always more fun to upset a team, rather than be expected to win.âÄù But the Gophers want more than a higher ranking and a strong dual-meet season. All roads lead to April, when they could show coaches, teams and the nation what they are made of right here on their home ground. âÄúEverything we do today, tomorrow, for the rest of the season, isnâÄôt preparing for a specific meet. ItâÄôs preparing for that Big Ten Championship and the NCAA championships,âÄù Reichow said. The NCAA Championships, hosted by the University of Minnesota from April 16 to 18 on campus at the Sports Pavilion, will put Minnesota gymnastics center stage and give the team an opportunity to make their dreams a reality. âÄúWeâÄôre hosting it, so thatâÄôs going to be huge,âÄù senior Alex Quast said. ItâÄôs huge to the team for many reasons. Reason one: It will put a spotlight on Minnesota gymnastics at one of the biggest gymnastics events in the world. âÄúI think it could create a completely different atmosphere, and it could create a completely different perspective in the nation about the University of Minnesota team,âÄù assistant coach Kostya Kolesnikov said. Pressure or not, the Gophers only take it as positive exposure. âÄúItâÄôs just exciting. ItâÄôs extremely exciting, and we take it as a motivation,âÄù Kolesnikov said. Reason two: home-field advantage. No more traveling, jet lag or staying in hotels. The only focus for the team will be competing hard and making it to the second day of competition. âÄúThe NCAA championships being hosted here is our biggest motivating factor. We want to be in the second day of NCAA championships here,âÄù Reichow said. Reason three: ItâÄôs going to be an exciting ride for MinnesotaâÄôs freshman class. One of those accomplished freshmen, DJ Repp , has already shown his motivation and dedication to success at the NCAAs in April. âÄúThereâÄôs no words to describe how happy we are to host it; itâÄôs going to be awesome. That home team advantage really gives us an edge, especially when we have such a good team this year,âÄù Repp said. The Gophers also have a surprisingly strong fan base and hope to pack the Pavilion to capacity over the weekend in late April. âÄúThereâÄôs going to be other fans from other teams, obviously, but our loyal fans will be here, and theyâÄôll be loud,âÄù head coach Mike Burns said. Not only are the fans loud, but they are dedicated to this team. Until April, the Gophers will continue to use the thought of the NCAAs as a push to succeed in the regular dual-meet season. âÄúIt will always be in the back of our minds. Each meet is a stepping stone,âÄù Repp said.