The No. 8-ranked Gophers women's gymnastics team will compete in the two-day Athens (Ga.) Regional starting Friday.
Besides Minnesota, the regional at Stegeman Coliseum hosted by the University of Georgia will have No. 1 Florida, No. 9 Denver, No. 16 Illinois, Central Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina State, Oregon State and Western Michigan.
The Gophers will compete in session one against Denver, Georgia and Oregon State. The meet will begin at noon Friday. The top two teams from each session will advance to the regional final at 6 p.m. Saturday. The top two teams there will advance to NCAA Championships April 16-17 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Minnesota won the Big Ten meet on March 20 at Maturi Pavilion with a program-record score of 197.750. Senior Lexy Ramler won all-around (39.725), bars (9.950) and beam (9.975) titles, while classmate Ona Loper won the title in floor exercise (9.950) and was second in all-around.
The Athens Regional will be streamed live on ESPN3.com.
Home openers for both
U ballclubs Friday
Both the Gophers softball and baseball teams have their on-campus home openers on Friday.
The softball team (12-4) plays Purdue (5-11) at 3 p.m. at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium. It is coming off its worst loss of the season— 8-0 at Illinois — but before that had a nine-game winning streak.
Minnesota, third in the Big Ten race, leads the conference in homers with 15 and is second in RBI with 64. Katelyn Kemmetmueller has a league-high four homers while Emily Hansen is tied for the Big Ten lead in RBI with 16. The team earned-run average is 1.60, third-best in the conference.
Coach John Anderson's baseball team is off to one of its worst starts in his 40 seasons. It is 3-12, last in the Big Ten and coming off a four-game sweep at Nebraska.
The Gophers have played 11 games at U.S. Bank Stadium but will play their first game at Siebert Field at 4 p.m. Friday versus Michigan State (6-7).
Minnesota is last in batting average (.210) and ERA (7.48) in the conference.
Bright spots? Zack Raabe is hitting .409, third in the Big Ten; Ron Sweeney has a team-high 13 RBI, and pitcher Sam Ireland is 0-2 but has the lowest ERA (3.70) and 23 strikeouts in 24⅓ innings.
U track to Florida
The Gophers men's and women's track and field teams will compete in the Big Ten Florida Invitational this weekend in Jacksonville, Fla. The meet will be held at Hodges Stadium on the campus of the University of North Florida.
Friday's field events are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., track events at 1 p.m. Saturday's events start with the men's discus at 7:30 a.m. The remaining field and running events resume at 2:30 p.m.
The Gophers returned to outdoor competition by winning two events and setting five all-time top-10 marks at the Big Ten Indiana Invite #1 last weekend. Kostas Zaltos threw 212 feet, 7 inches — eighth best in program history — to win the men's hammer throw. Carissa Dock won the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase in 10 minutes, 47.30 seconds.
Four Gophers set all-time top-10 marks.
Devia Brown finished as women's shot put runner-up with a mark of 54-3¼ (third best). Tiera Robinson-Jones finished second in women's triple jump, going 41-10 (fifth). Janielle Josephs was the women's 200-meter runner-up in 24.01 (eighth). Kion Benjamin was second in the men's 200 meters in 21.08 (10th).
Hobey Hat Trick set
Minnesota State Mankato goalie Dryden McKay, North Dakota forward Shane Pinto and Wisconsin forward Cole Caufield were named the Hat Trick finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top player in NCAA Division I men's hockey. The winner will be announced 5 p.m. April 9 on NHL Network during Frozen Four weekend in Pittsburgh.
Northfield football coach Sullivan retires
Longtime Northfield football coach Bubba Sullivan announced he was stepping down after 32 years. Sullivan told Jeff Johnson of KYMN-Radio in Northfield that he begun thinking about retiring two years ago, when he reached his 30-year anniversary.
"It started creeping into my mind. It was like 'OK, when is going to be the right time?' " Sullivan said. "This past season, the feeling got stronger. It was time to step down and let someone else take the helm."
Sullivan has a career record of 208-134 and led the Raiders to the Class 4A state championship in 1997.
• Concordia (Moorhead)'s Megan Gavin, a senior from Cold Spring, Minn., was named the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's Division III pitcher of the week. She pitched 17⅓ innings, didn't allow an earned run and struck out 36.
• Concordia (Moorhead)'s Brianna Bell, a junior, was named the UTR/Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Division III player of the week. She had a match-clinching win at No.4 singles against Northwestern on Saturday. She won 6-3, 3-6 (10-8) in a super-set tiebreaker.
• St. Olaf junior Sam Westermeyer was selected as the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's Division III Pitcher of the Week. He threw the Oles' first no-hitter in nearly 22 years as they won 6-0 victory over Augsburg at U.S. Bank Stadium last week.
• Several gymnasts who are members of the Gophers' incoming recruiting class next fall had impressive weekends at their respective Junior Olympics state competitions. Marissa Jencks, competing for the Twin Cities Twisters, placed second overall in the all-around (37.950) in the Minnesota state meet. Haley Tyson, of the Phenom Gymnastics, won the all-around crown (38.925) in Illinois. And Lauren Pearl, of Brestyan's American Gymnastics, was third place in the all-around (36.900) in Massachusetts.