Those who follow Gophers gymnastics know how Lexy Ramler can captivate an audience, with performances so enthralling they can't look away. The sophomore tends to have that effect, even when she's just running through her routines at Peik Gym.
During a practice for this weekend's NCAA championships, Ramler mounted the balance beam in a room ringing with laughter and music. Her Gophers teammates instantly stopped their own workouts. Someone shut off the music, and all of them turned toward the beam, transfixed by every flip and twist.
"Lexy is so beautiful to watch," coach Jenny Hansen said. "She just moves from one element right to the next, like she's dancing. She just kind of floats on the beam."
Ramler ended that practice run with a stuck landing, drawing hearty cheers from her teammates. She hopes to get the same kind of response Friday in Fort Worth, Texas, when she competes in the all-around at the NCAA championships.
The Gophers finished in third place at an NCAA regional earlier this month, with only the top two teams qualifying for this weekend's meet. Ramler earned an individual spot in the all-around as the highest-scoring gymnast whose team did not advance. Though she will be performing solo this time, the native of St. Michael, Minn., said she became more team-oriented this season, learning how to put her skills to work for the benefit of all.
She added to her personal trophy case as well. Ramler was named Big Ten Gymnast of the Year last month, and she shared North Central Region Gymnast of the Year honors with Stillwater native Maddie Karr of the University of Denver.
"I had an amazing freshman year," said Ramler, the 2018 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. "This year, I wanted to keep improving, but I also wanted to focus more on helping the team out.
"My main goal was, how can I help my teammates be more confident in themselves? I can share knowledge about something that worked for me, and it might work for them. Or when you see someone who's down, telling them, 'You got this.' When you're part of a team, everyone helps everyone, and that makes it even more fun."
Ramler said it was "a huge transition" from the individualism of club gymnastics to the camaraderie of college. She was the best athlete at KidSport Gymnastics Center in Winona, setting her apart at an early age.
As a freshman, Ramler also competed individually in the all-around at the NCAA championships and was an All-America in multiple events. Hansen said that showed Ramler she belonged among the nation's best, but she also had work to do to reach the top. She seized the challenge immediately, upgrading her vault and floor exercise skills over the summer.
Those improvements paid dividends. Ramler broke the school record for highest all-around score, when she posted a 39.725 in a February dual meet against Maryland, and was the Big Ten champion on beam and co-champ in the all-around. Though she still retains some of the seriousness that surrounds club gymnastics, Ramler has thrived amid the support, fellowship and fun she has found in college.
"Lexy is very tough on herself, and she has very high expectations," Hansen said. "That hasn't changed. But this year, she also sees how she can make a difference for the team.
"She's not just doing it for herself. She's talking to the rest of the team and saying, 'Hey, you can do this, and this is how you do it.' That was a little bit of an adjustment for her, but I know she's really enjoying it. And it's been instrumental to our team's success."
After earning regular-season All-America honors on beam, bars and all-around, Ramler hopes to add another All-America certificate Friday. The achievement she really covets, though, will have to wait.
"Going to NCAAs as a team is a huge goal of mine," she said. "I would love to experience this with my teammates. I'm already excited for next year."