Even with the competition not quite up to par this weekend, the Minnesota women's gymnastics team should still have an opportunity to improve.
Hamline, Gustavus Adolphus and Winona State all come to the Sports Pavilion on Saturday for the Best of
Minnesota meet at 6 p.m.,
placing all four Minnesota gymnastics teams in the same building for the only time this season.
"The Best of Minnesota is really a showcase of Minnesota gymnastics," coach Jim Stephenson said. "It's a great opportunity for fans of the sport to see this area represented so well."
The Gophers are the only Division I school at the meet, so Minnesota will need to look someplace other than its opponents to get anything out of this meet.
Aside from another chance to post a quality score at home, the biggest advantage of
facing these teams will be the fact that the Gophers will get their first look at a tournament-style meet, similar to the style used at the Big Ten Championships.
Instead of the dual-meet format - where teams take turns in each event - the tournament-style format will feature all the teams competing simultaneously in all the events.
An opportunity to see that style is a big help, according to Stephenson.
"One of the big advantages is the chance to get used to the pace that will be set during regionals," he said. "There can be a big difference, and that's why it's so important for us to learn how to deal with the time frame and not let that change overwhelm us."
Whether it was the format or something else, last year's Best of Minnesota meet saw the Gophers' scores drop to their lowest of the year, recording a 191.775, which was still good enough to top the other schools.
But senior Kim Womack said she wasn't too concerned even after last year's mishap.
"I think we just fell out of our bubble last year, but that's in the past for us now," she said. "It's always fun to have all four Minnesota teams at the same place, no matter what happens."
A breakdown similar to last season is unlikely, as the Gophers have been performing well recently, including a season-best score of 195.125 on the road against Arizona last Saturday.
Sophomore Jade Beattie had a strong vault for Minnesota last weekend, finishing fourth with a 9.775. She said she's been impressed so far with the improvements her team has made this year.
"We've been getting better, and it's our hope to continue to build off of that," she said. "Our team has come together much earlier this year, and now we can focus on continuing to raise our average."