When the time came for senior Lexy Ramler to step in front of her Gophers women's gymnastics teammates, they started bowing.
"Lexy Ramler, the queen!" they shouted.
Ahead of senior night in early March, the Gophers lined up each senior one by one and teammates had the chance to tell each one their favorite memories of them or what they admire most. Ramler crouched and hid as her teammates showered her with praise, but it was warranted.
She's practically Minnesota gymnastics royalty.
Name a Gophers record or a Big Ten accolade and chances are good Ramler has earned it or come close. One of the few accomplishments she doesn't have: A national championship.
She has a prime opportunity to change that this weekend in Fort Worth, Texas. Minnesota is set to compete at the NCAA championships for the first time as a team since 2016, starting with the semifinal round at noon on Friday. In what could be her final meet as a Gopher, Ramler will also look to become the program's second individual champion — in any event — and first since 1990.
Ramler's scores entering the NCAA meet rank first on the beam, third on the bars, tied for fifth on the vault and tied for second in the all-around.
"I do think she is going to graduate here probably the greatest of all time, and I think it's going to be difficult for anyone to catch her," Gophers coach Jenny Hansen said.
Look no further than the Gophers' record books; Ramler holds the all-around record for the Gophers (39.850), and behind her at second: Lexy Ramler. Third? Lexy Ramler.
Another Gopher doesn't pop up on the all-around record list until 8th, where Ramler is tied (twice) with Lindsay Mable.
"She really has set a new standard and helped elevate our program," Hansen said.
Floor exercise is the only program record in which Ramler doesn't hold at least a tie for the top ranking. Freshman Mya Hooten owns that with a perfect 10.00 tallied against Nebraska this past March.
Ramler has competed at the NCAA championships before individually, but now because of the talent she has around her, the team is joining her. Hansen called it the deepest team they've ever had with seven Gophers earning spots on the all-conference list, a program record.
Ramler, Hooten and senior Ona Loper each earned spots on the Big Ten first team. Loper scored a perfect 10.00 on the vault at the NCAA regional semifinal, the third of her Gophers career.
This could be it for Loper, too. She and Ramler are seniors in their fourth years of eligibility, but the NCAA extended eligibility for athletes by a year because of the pandemic. So, they could return next season.
"We have not decided anything official yet," Ramler said. "Obviously we love our sport, but nothing official yet."
But the way Loper talked when she was asked about nationals being a potential last meet, the end of their time with Gophers gymnastics sounds more near than far.
"It's going to be very sad," Loper said. "I don't think either of us are ready to be done. We're just really going to take in the moment."
If this is it, Ramler will leave behind a colossal legacy and example that has shown younger gymnasts the way, as Hansen always talks about, that can help the Gophers build sustainable success.
"Her work ethic, everything she does in the gym really has been such a great role model for everyone," Loper said, "and I think it's really pushed everyone past their limits a little bit to really try to excel and get to the level she is at. Obviously we'll never be as good as her …"
"Not true," Ramler interjected.
"But we can try our best," Loper finished.
The two were sitting next to each other on a Zoom call, and Loper had no shortage of opportunities to talk about her best friend. But as Loper dropped more and more praise, Ramler looked more and more like she wanted to slip off camera.
"You can tell she's uncomfortable," Loper said, "me talking about how amazing she is."
Ramler might have to learn to live with the discomfort of attention for a little bit longer, especially if the queen earns an NCAA crown.