Minnesota hosts top team in the country

The undefeated dual-meet record might be in jeopardy for Minnesota's men's gymnastics team. The Gophers will put their 3-0 record on the line Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion...
By
  • Mark Heise
February 16, 2007

The undefeated dual-meet record might be in jeopardy for Minnesota's men's gymnastics team.

The Gophers will put their 3-0 record on the line Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion as they take on Michigan - the top team in the nation.

Minnesota will have to have its best match of the year, as the Wolverines' top billing has been a well-defended one.

Michigan comes into the meet with an 8-0 overall record, including wins over No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 2 Penn State, and has recorded scores as high as 221.6 this season. The seventh-ranked Gophers' high score this season is 207.15.

"They're a solid team this year," Minnesota coach Mike Burns said. "It's going to take a really good effort from our guys, but I feel we've got a shot."

But the Wolverines' scores aren't always as high, as their score at Penn State was nearly five points lower than the season-high score they achieved against the Sooners in Ann Arbor.

Even with Michigan's lower scores on the road, the Gophers will have a lot to prove if they hope to knock off the Wolverines.

"They have about a three-point advantage over us on pommel horse, so that's what we really need to focus on," freshman Michael Hillin said. "We're a lot closer to them on all the other events, so we have the potential to give them some good competition."

On the pommel horse, Minnesota's highest score of the season has been 32.45, which Burns said is something that could be improved simply with clean routines.

And with the majority of the Gophers squad coming off a week without competition, the extra practice could play a factor in Minnesota's success.

Added rest plus a home-floor advantage seemed to be enough to boost junior Mitchell Mays' confidence.

"We're feeling refreshed and ready to go," he said. "A home-scoring event is definitely a plus for us, since we feel like they've been home-scored too much. We're looking forward to this."

The difference in points between the two teams seems too high for any team to overcome, but despite the doubts, Burns said his team had a shot at knocking off the top-ranked team.

"I think our guys are charged up and have proven already that they know how to rise to the occasion at home," he said. "Our fans are unbelievable and we're expecting a big crowd. Hopefully this type of environment will throw them off their game a little bit."

Women to North Carolina

The women's gymnastics team travels to North Carolina to compete at 6 p.m. tonight following a sub-par meet at home last weekend.

The Tar Heels are 11-3 on the season, with a high score of 194.525. Minnesota's best score this season totaled 195.125.

The Gophers haven't faced North Carolina since losing to the Tar Heels 196-195.775 on March 2, 2003.

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