MINNEAPOLIS - It doesn’t get much better than perfect.
University of Minnesota junior gymnast Lexy Ramler lived something last Saturday that most athletes in her sport never get to experience. She joined her teammates on the balance beam, the strongest part of their team, and put together the greatest routine of her life.
After sticking the landing, all Ramler had to do was wait while she celebrated with her teammates. Then, the score flashed: A perfect 10. She’s the third Gophers’ gymnast in the last five years to accomplish such a feat.
“It’s almost elusive, trying to chase perfection. It’s not something that happens very often and when it does, it is a big deal. But we’re striving for it every day, there’s no question,” her coach, Jenny Hansen, said. “We all kind of felt like finally, we got the score she felt like she’s deserved for so long. She’s done so many routines just like that in practice and competition the last few years. We all just kind of felt like finally, she got what she deserved.”
It’s something that’s been years in the making, with a lot of hard work and hours of practice. With her teammates watching her every move in the routine at Rutgers, they all erupted together when they saw the perfect 10.
“When I landed that dismount, it was just absolutely incredible to know that, I was like that was really good. To finally see those scores flash around, that was pretty cool and have all my teammates run and hug me, very cool,” Ramler said.
The rest of the sports world took notice as well. Ramler’s phone was already buzzing from friends and family who had just witnessed history.
Later Saturday night, the Gophers were highlighted on national television. Ramler’s perfect 10 was No. 8 on SportsCenter’s top-10. Her minute-plus of perfection reached the national spotlight.
“I actually heard about that from my cousin and a bunch of tweets and Instagram stories. So the fact that my cousin texted me and said ‘Hey I saw you and your team on ESPN.’ I was like ‘Whoa, that is so cool,’” Gophers’ sophomore Tiarre Sales said.
The Gophers hope it’s just the start of something bigger. After winning the meet at Rutgers with a score of 196.975, the Gophers are 3-1 on the season and ranked No. 6 in the country. It’s the highest they’ve ever been ranked as Hansen enters her sixth season as head coach.
They’ll be eyeing that ranking most of the season. The top eight teams at the end of the year advance to the NCAA Championships.
“It’s never happened in our 10 years so we’re really excited about it. We knew this team was special right from the beginning of the season,” Hansen said of the team’s No. 6 ranking.
The Gophers have the No. 1-ranked balance beam group in the country, and Ramler finished second overall in the all-round competition at the NCAA Championships last year.
Minnesota’s athletes live in the gym, and they take a page from P.J. Fleck with the Gophers’ football program. They just want to get better every day, which was coach Hansen’s message to the group at the end of practice on Monday.
“Just every day, coming in and loving the battle,” junior Ona Loper said.
The Gophers are coming off finishing in the top 16 in the country in 2018. Hansen said they came in from the offseason ready to get to work.
Minnesota will open its home season on Saturday against Illinois, and will be raising money for charity in the process. The Gophers are hosting their annual “Always Dreaming” meet at Maturi Pavilion, and they’ll be asking fans to bring donations for the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. Fans will get discounted admission for bringing donated items, and the team will have three junior captains who have been personally affected by cancer.
“It means a lot to us. It’s built and it’s grown over the years. They all spend time there, so it’s something we can do to help make a difference,” Hansen said.