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9-Zero Gophers altering a variety of journey plans for followers


Jack Puncochar booked a four-day weekend some time again, taking this coming Friday and Monday off work and planning to take his girlfriend to Arizona through the time without work.

After which … the Gophers beat Penn State.

Puncochar, from St. Louis Park, nonetheless had 4 days off — and he nonetheless wished to move out of city along with his girlfriend. However the vacation spot modified.

“I somehow convinced her to go to Iowa City with me instead,” Puncochar, 24, mentioned.

He’s not alone.

Gophers coach P.J. Fleck talks usually about altering the tradition inside the program. With a 9-Zero document and a defining win over Penn State contemporary in a variety of minds, he’s additionally altering expectations — and journey plans — of a variety of followers.

Puncochar was one in every of many Gophers followers I communicated this week who mentioned the undefeated begin, and significantly the Penn State win, spurred journeys to away video games beginning Saturday in Iowa in opposition to the Hawkeyes. Listed here are their tales, all of which have been shared over e-mail or direct message:

• Kyle Melcher, 29, of Owatonna, didn’t get to see any of the Penn State recreation due to a highschool soccer teaching dedication. However on the bus journey after the highschool recreation, he purchased tickets “spur of the moment” and is “rowing to Iowa City” together with a number of associates and his girlfriend.

That’s a reasonably important funding for Melcher, who describes himself as a lifelong Gophers fan however one who hasn’t been to a soccer recreation in individual since they misplaced to TCU in 2015.

“I told (my) dad I am not deer hunting with him,” Melcher mentioned. “The deer will always be there! The Gophers … who knows?”

• Troy Steffenson, 54, falls into the “loyal” and “long-suffering” classes. Steffenson lives in St. Louis and mentioned he proudly flies his Gophers flag each Saturday they play.

He’s made the trek to Iowa Metropolis — slightly over 4 hours from St. Louis — for each Gophers recreation in opposition to the Hawkeyes since 1991. And he’s seen precisely one Minnesota victory, in 1999. He was going to go this yr regardless, however suffice to say a win would imply additional to him.

“My faith in the Gophers has not changed much this year because they are 9-0,” Steffenson mentioned. “I’ve been flying that flag every Saturday whether they were undefeated or getting pummeled by Ohio State.”

• Pat Fitterer, 34, mentioned he’s been a Gophers fan his entire life after attending numerous video games along with his grandfather on the Metrodome.

He booked his tickets to Iowa when the Gophers have been 7-0 — springing for front-row seats to have fun his mother (Julie) who turns 61 Thursday. The largest factor he’s observed this yr is that followers who have been solely beforehand considerably within the Gophers are totally on board now.

“I always wondered how annoyed I’d be if/when the bandwagon ever filled up, and I’m happy that the answer is, ‘not at all,’” Fitterer mentioned. “It’s awesome.”

• Ryan Tate, 43, graduated from the U in 1999, and neither the Gophers’ up-and-down historical past nor the truth that he now lives in Missouri have stored him from following the soccer workforce.

However this season, he mentioned, the Gophers have change into “appointment TV,” and their potential for enjoying in large video games later within the yr has him checking journey and ticket websites usually. He even talked about the “R” phrase.

“I’m a football fan, but I’m not traveling to Indianapolis just to see the B1G Title Game of Ohio State, Penn State or a Michigan school take on the West winner. With the Gophers in contention, I am looking into tickets to the game,” Tate mentioned. “I’m also looking at the costs of a trip to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl. It’s the one stadium and the one game I’ve always wanted to go to.”

• Noel Thompson, 33, lives in California and tries to comply with a finances in the case of his love for Gophers soccer. The Rose Bowl could be only a three-hour drive, ought to the Gophers wind up there.

However as quickly as they defeated Penn State, he purchased a flight and costly recreation tickets for the regular-season finale in opposition to the Badgers at TCF Financial institution Stadium.

“The win over Penn State made me realize that I have to see this team play again,” Thompson mentioned. “I cried last year when we beat (Wisconsin) for the first time in so many years. Knowing that the UW game could have so many implications, I want to experience what other fans experienced at the Penn State game.”

• Connor Forbrook grew up watching the Gophers. He enrolled on the U in 2015 and went to all however one dwelling recreation throughout his 4 years at school. He’s continued that streak this yr even after graduating, however subsequent weekend he’s taking it to a different degree.

Forbrook, 22, and a few of his associates had beforehand deliberate to move to Iowa State for his or her matchup with Texas. However after going to the Penn State recreation and storming the sphere, issues modified.

“Within 24 hours of the Penn State win, we sold our tickets at a loss, booked our hotel and bought tickets for Iowa City and will be heading down with I’m sure countless other fans to bring back Floyd to its original home,” Forbrook mentioned.

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