After putting up two straight season-high scores last weekend against Iowa and Iowa State, many of the gymnasts and coaches on the Minnesota women’s squad came home to the Sports Pavilion on Friday night looking for increased improvement.
what: Women’s gymnastics
when: 6 p.m., Saturday
where: Morgantown, W.Va
While the No. 25-ranked Gophers put up a score of 194.675 against No. 27 North Carolina on Friday, dropping .275 points from the previous weekend’s season high, Minnesota still claimed a 3.1 point victory over the Tar Heels and continued their development towards the post-season.
“I think the meet went really well,” senior Amanda Miles said after the win. “Obviously we were coming off two great meets last week, and that’s always good for motivation and morale.”
Winning three of the last four events on Friday, the Gophers ’emphasis on steady improvement was seen through an increasingly better score from events one through four.
North Carolina showed no road weariness early on by taking the first event, the vault. But the Gophers took a slow-and-steady approach to climb back into the meet, scoring a 48.575 on the uneven bars, a 48.675 on the beam and a 49.000 on the floor exercise.
A three-way tie for the top score on the bars of a 9.750 was had by Minnesota freshmen Kristin Furukawa, Yuri Nagai, and junior Carmelina Carabajal. The strong bars performance gave the Gophers the edge over the Tar Heels that North Carolina couldn’t get back.
Minnesota continued to roll with a win on the beam, as Miles and junior Angela Walker each scored a 9.800, and senior Ashley Stanton earned an impressive 9.850.
Stephenson said that having Miles back on the beam and floor gave the Gophers a “more polished look,” as the senior was out for the past three to four weeks with an injury prior to Friday’s meet.
“The most important coach we have right now is our trainer,” Stephenson said. “She’s the one putting people back out on the floor for us.”
The last event for Minnesota was the floor exercise, where Walker put up a solid 9.850 and Carabajal finished the night and sealed the victory for the Gophers with a stunning 9.875.
“I absolutely love it,” Carabajal said about having the floor exercise as the last event during each home meet. “The floor is the time to show who you are. It’s so expressive and it’s such an art form. I just love having it last because it shows the audience how great we are.”
Although the Gophers put up some impressive individual scores and finished with the victory, Stephenson said that getting out of the meet with no injuries and realizing that there is still a lot of room for improvement until postseason play is the most important thing to take away from Friday’s meet.
“We’re not yet at our best, but we’re training every day to get there before the post-season,” he said.