Early struggles can’t keep women’s gymnasts from win over UNC

Ben Goessling

With only two weeks remaining before his team competes in the Big Ten Championships, Minnesota women’s gymnastics co-coach Jim Stephenson sensed the Gophers needed something of a wake-up call.

On Friday night at the Sports Pavilion, the ninth-ranked Gophers got it, struggling early en route to a 195.725-194.275 victory over No. 22 North Carolina.

After suffering two falls on the uneven bars, Minnesota rallied with season highs on both the balance beam and floor exercise to cement the victory.

“There were a lot of lessons learned here tonight,” Stephenson said. “We’ve been at a point where we’re taking some things for granted. For the team, it (the uneven bars event) was a slap in the face, and when we went to beam, you could see that everyone was more focused and more aggressive.”

In her last routine at the Sports Pavilion, senior MaryAnne Kelley brought an audience of 1,484 to its feet by scoring a school-record 9.975 in the floor exercise. As the crowd roared in petition for a perfect score, Kelley received a 10 from the first judge before getting a 9.95 from the second judge. Co-coach Meg Stephenson called it “the best floor routine I’ve ever seen a Gopher gymnast perform.”

In addition to her victory in the floor exercise, Kelley won the all-around and the balance beam with a school-record tying score of 9.95.

Sophomore Annie Laatsch turned in another solid performance, posting a 9.9 to win the uneven bars, tying for second on the floor exercise, and placing fourth on the balance beam.

While the Stephensons were disappointed Kelley and Laatsch didn’t receive 10s on their respective events, they added they were pleased with Kelley and Laatsch’s performances as the two gymnasts lead the team into the Big Ten Championships.

“It’s disappointing they didn’t get 10s, but the scores are not the most important thing,” Meg Stephenson said. “The most important thing is they’re both in great shape, and we’re right where we want to be at this time of year.”

Harrigan, men’s 4×400 team earn All-America
honors

Tahesia Harrigan earned All-America honors at the 2002 NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., with her second place finish of 7.22 seconds in the 60-meter dash.

The sophomore broke her career-best time by .08 seconds to tie the highest finish ever by a Minnesota woman in a track and field national event.

Harrigan’s appearance at nationals marked the first time in school history that an individual sprinter competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Additionally, the men’s 4×400 meter relay team earned All- American honors for the second straight year with a fourth-place finish.

The team of sophomore Mikael Jakobsson, junior Andy Wohlin, sophomore Adam Steele and sophomore Mitch Potter clocked a time of 3:08.67.

The men’s distance medley team also earned an All-America citation after placing sixth. The eight Gophers to receive All-America status is a new school record for a single season. The previous high was six during the 2001 indoor season.

Potter also earned All-America accolades for his ninth place showing in the 400-meter dash on Friday. He is now a five-time All-American.

Baseball

Minnesota’s baseball team earned its first series sweep of the 2002 season with a convincing 25-7 win over Valparaiso University on Sunday afternoon. Fifteen different Gophers combined for 25 hits, while five Maroon and Gold hurlers struck out 12 Crusaders.

The 25 runs scored is the most for Minnesota since it scored 26 versus Michigan last season.

Sophomore Josh Krogman started the game for Minnesota. He completed five innings of work, allowing just one earned run and tied a career-high with six strikeouts.

Seven different Golden Gophers had multi-hit performances, including senior Scott Howard, who posted his second consecutive four-hit game.

As a team, Minnesota batted .532 (25-for-47), drew eight walks, stole six bases and smashed eight extra-base hits.

The Gophers improved to 4-9 on the year. They will host No. 7 Nebraska on March 19-20.

Softball

Minnesota Golden Gophers fell for the second time to No. 4 Nebraska, 4-0 in the championship game of the Florida State Invitational. Minnesota ended the tournament with a 4-2 mark and now stands at 19-5 on the season.

Minnesota’s Piper Marten and Jordanne Nygren were selected to the all-tournament team. Marten went 3-1 during the tournament with a 1.48 earned run average, while Nygren hit .368 with four RBI.

In the semifinal game, Minnesota downed No. 8 Michigan 7-0. The Gophers exploded for six runs in the second inning, stringing together six consecutive hits with two outs.

Angie Recknor upped her record to 7-1 on the season with the complete-game victory over Michigan. The sophomore limited the Wolverines to no runs on three hits, while striking out five and walking one.

Men’s gymnastics

The No. 6-ranked University of Minnesota men’s gymnastics team finished third of three teams at Saturday night’s meet in Columbus, Ohio, scoring 213.325 points to No. 2 Ohio State’s 217.225 and No. 5 Iowa’s 213.600. The Gophers concluded their conference meets this season with a record of 3-9.

Junior Clay Strother, a two-time NCAA Champion, finished second in the all-around competition with a score of 53.100. He placed first on the pommel horse, second on vault, and fifth on parallel bars.

The Gophers overall placed first on vault and second on floor exercise and pommel horse.

Minnesota’s Tim Koehler’s finished first on the vault.

Men’s tennis

The 27th-ranked Gopher men’s tennis team defeated Michigan 7-0 on Friday night at the 98th Street Racquet Club in Bloomington, Minn. Minnesota swept the six singles matches and won two of the three doubles matches.

Harsh Mankad, the nation’s number one ranked singles player, defeated Michigan’s Henry Beam in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4. Mankad improved to 15-1 on the year.

Mankad teamed with Thomas Haug to win at No. 1 doubles by a score of 8-3.

Women’s tennis

The Minnesota women’s tennis team earned a 5-2 victory against non-conference opponent Syracuse on Friday. Minnesota moves to 4-8 overall.

Maryland defeated the Gophers on Sunday.