The No. 8-ranked Gophers women's gymnastics team finished second in the Athens (Ga.) Regional with a score of 197.425 on Saturday night to advance to the NCAA meet along with No. 1 Florida out of the four teams in the regional finals.
Minnesota will appear in the NCAA meet, which will be held April 16-17 in Fort Worth, Texas, for the first time since 2016 and will compete against Florida, Michigan and California in the first semifinal.
The Gators took first place in the regional with a 197.700 score, but the Big Ten meet champion Gophers pushed them to the finish. Denver was third (197.275) and North Carolina State fourth (196.150).
"When we are firing on all cylinders, we do think we can compete with anybody in the country," Gophers coach Jenny Hansen said.
Minnesota and Denver were close for second place going into the Gophers' final rotation, but Hansen was not concerned.
"We knew where we were, but we also know what event we were finishing on," she said, "and we are great on that event. So we had a lot of confidence."
Minnesota's vault score was 49.450. Freshman Mya Hooten had the highest score for the Gophers, a 9.950. Ramler and Ona Loper had a pair of 9.900s while Gianna Gerdes and Kate Grotenhuis both recorded career-high 9.850s
Senior Lexy Ramler of the Gophers placed second in the all-around competition with a 39.675 behind Denver's Lynnzee Brown (39.750). Ramler's single event highs were a 9.950 on beam and 9.925 on bars.
Ramler had a 9.950 on beam, 9.925 on bars and a 9.900 on both vault and floor exercise.
"What a rush. We fought all the way to the end and put our hearts all on the floor," Ramler said
Wiskus stars for U men
Gophers senior Shane Wiskus tied for first in the all-around with Michigan's Cameron Bock — both had 84.700 scores — and won three events in the Big Ten meet at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb.
"He finished with four Big Ten titles, what a night for the kid from Spring Park, Minnesota," Gophers coach Mike Burns said. "He's in a class by himself and he helped this team tremendously tonight by virtue of the ice water in his veins. It's so nice to see what a great talent the University of Minnesota will be losing at the end of this historic season."
The events Wiskus won were floor exercise (14.750), parallel bars (14.400) and high bar (14.050). He was named to the All-Big Ten first team.
Bock led the No. 2-ranked Wolverines to their 18th conference title. They finished with a score of 411.00; the Gophers finished sixth (395.950).
"This was one of the closest Big Ten Championships from second to seventh place I've seen in a long time," Burns said. "In a meet like this, you have to conserve as many tenths of a point as possible. When you finish only 2.050 points out of second place and count five missed routines, you can't expect to finish near the top. We still have two weeks of life in our program and this team will fight to the very end."
Now the Gophers will have an off week before returning to Maturi Pavilion to host the NCAA Championships on April 16-17. The program will be dropped once the season ends.