Minnesota scores season-high 194.450 in close dual loss to top-ranked Utah

The Gophers lost by less than a point Saturday at the Sports Pavilion.

Minnesota’s women’s gymnastics team went into Saturday’s dual at the Sports Pavilion trying to beat its own score rather than Utah’s.

After all, the Utes came in as the No. 1 team in the country, with an average team score of more than three points higher than Minnesota’s.

The Gophers stepped up to the competition, however, recording their highest score of the season and staying with the Utes in a loss, 195.275-194.450.

“This was really an eye-opener,” junior Laura Johnson said. “We definitely have things that we need to fix, and we were still less than a point away from the No. 1 team in the nation.”

The highlight of the Gophers’ meet was the balance beam, where they beat the Utes with their highest team total so far this season.

Ashley Stanton sparked the Gophers, earning a career-best score of 9.800 to tie for second place with the Ute’s Ashley Postell.

“I didn’t give anything away,” Stanton said. “It was fun. I didn’t want to get down.”

Utah’s Rachel Tidd won the beam with a 9.825.

Minnesota also performed well on the floor exercise, led by Carolyn Yernberg, who won the event with a 9.875.

Johnson and Maria Opsahl placed in the floor as well, each scoring 9.825 to tie for third.

“The team was very energized about performing,” Minnesota co-coach Jim Stephenson said. “There was a sense within the group that they really wanted to show off their gymnastics.”

Utah demonstrated its dominance on parallel bars, recording the top five places in the event led by Postell, who won with a 9.825.

Stephenson said he hopes his team will learn from this meet and use it as a stepping-up point to gain confidence.

“Essentially, nobody could have gone up against (Utah) tonight and beat them,” Stephenson said. “We made it a very competitive event. Having several people place in their events was very inspiring.”

Walker tears ACL

The Gophers took a hit last weekend at Washington when they lost freshman Angela Walker for the season after she tore her anterior cruciate ligament.

Walker was one of Minnesota’s top gymnasts and an all-around competitior.

Alvarez second in Vegas

Men’s senior Guillermo Alvarez placed second in the all-around with a score of 53.115 at the Winter Cup in Las Vegas.

Alvarez finished second on the vault with a 9.566 and fourth on the pommel horse with a 9.233.

Jake Lee and Scott Garner also competed at the meet for Minnesota, finishing 15th and 33rd, respectively.