Specialist becomes all-around contributor in second season

Jenny Covers has won the all-around competition twice this season, including last Sunday.

Nickalas Tabbert

Jenny Covers wasn’t content last season competing in only one event.

The sophomore on the women’s gymnastics team was a vault specialist as a freshman.

She told herself when last season ended that she would train harder and focus more on gymnastics so she could contribute more this season.

Covers has done just that in 2013, competing as an all-around gymnast for No. 14 Minnesota. She has competed in all four events in every meet but one, which she missed due to a concussion.

Covers is one of three Minnesota gymnasts to compete in the all-around competition this season. She has won the all-around twice, including last Sunday against Iowa State.

Her average vault score is higher than last season, and it leads the team and is tied for third-best in the conference. She has also improved her consistency on the apparatus.

Head coach Meg Stephenson said Covers worked with vaulting coach Jenny Hansen in the offseason to improve her landing.

“She had a really powerful, strong vault,” Stephenson said, “but it was not necessarily landing very well and wasn’t as clean as it is now.”

Covers said she feels her vault is coming together this season.

“Every girl can do a 10.0 vault without the landing,” she said. “[The landing] separates you from everyone else.”

Stephenson said Covers has become a better gymnastics student in her second year, paying more attention to the coaching and applying it to her routines on every event.

“That’s helped her make the kind of corrections she needed to make,” she said.

Covers said beam has always been her weakest event. Yet, she’s often the first competitor on the apparatus in competitions, a sign of consistency and dependability.

Covers has also led off on floor and uneven bars for Minnesota this season. She said she was nervous to hold the first spot in the rotation initially but has grown into it.

“Now I like it,” she said. “I feel more secure in that spot, and I feel like that’s my job to get the girls started off with a strong routine.”

Midway through her second season, Covers said the biggest difference between her two collegiate seasons has been her confidence level and a more comforting environment.

“I feel at home now,” she said. “Last year, I knew Minnesota was my home, but I had to get my feet wet.”

Stephenson described Covers as a natural leader, someone who is prepared each day in practice and for meets.

“That’s the best kind of leader we can ask for,” she said.

Covers said she learned how to be a leader from the upperclassmen who have taught her.

After reaching her goal, Covers said she hasn’t put any extra pressure on herself in meets this season.

“I forget about the whole [meet],” she said, “and just do what the team needs me to do at that moment.”