Gymnastics teams face critical weekend meets

by Jill Shirley

The Gophers men’s gymnastics team has suddenly become a little young.
With every senior hurt, the Gophers are centered around their freshmen and sophomores. Coach Fred Roethlisberger still believes the team has a good chance at Saturday’s meet against Illinois-Chicago.
“Our chances are good, our team’s gotten a lot better,” Roethlisberger said. “(The freshmen and sophomores) are doing a real good job right now. Even though they lack depth, I feel they’ve made a lot of improvements.”
The season has been a little eclectic for the team. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they’re at home or on the road — the Gophers have been consistently inconsistent no matter where they are.
There hasn’t been any one event that has given Minnesota problems, either; the missed routines have come from every event, with no indication of where they’ll come from next.
“There’s always one event that falls apart,” Roethlisberger said. “You never really seem to know exactly where it’s coming from, but most often it has been parallel bars.”
The Gophers are ranked 11th in the nation, which puts them right on the edge of consideration for the NCAA championships. A win Saturday against Illinois-Chicago could be very good for Minnesota, as Illinois-Chicago is ranked 12th. Illinois-Chicago, Michigan and Minnesota are all vying for the last two spots.
Roethlisberger would like his team to score around 226, which would not only help secure a spot in the nationals, but would also give them confidence for the Big Ten championships.
“We stand a really good chance of winning this one,” freshman Clay Strother said. “We’re ranked ahead of UIC right now, and if we just put it all together, we’ll have it.”

Women’s gymnastics
The Minnesota women’s gymnastics team is hoping it learned something from the last meet.
After a mediocre showing against Iowa last week, the Gophers have been working on building their confidence for the home meet Saturday against Boise State.
“The bottom line is that they need to be confident and know that they’re good,” co-coach Meg Stephenson said, “and get out there and do it.”
The Gophers have been working on putting themselves in pressure situations in an effort to wipe away jitters and increase consistency.
One strategy the coaches use is going through “team events.” On one day of practice, they each do a routine on the chosen event and keep doing it until every single person gets it right.
“We’ve been working hard on being consistent,” senior Melissa Chang said. “We’ve been doing pre-meet meets, putting ourselves in the scenario. We’ve been looking really strong, and we have a good attitude going in.”
Minnesota hopes that the balance beam will let go of its hex on the team, so the Gophers can get the 195 score the coaches are hoping for.
“Boise State is a very good team, much better than Iowa, so it won’t be a cakewalk,” Stephenson said. “(But) they’re having the opposite problem we’re having — they’re hitting at home and not away.
“We just hope they learned from last weekend and will go in and make changes where necessary.”