Men, women continue improvements but lose to top-notch teams

The women amassed their best score of the season but lost to No. 8 Arkansas.

by Alexandra Pluym

The No. 22 Minnesota womenâÄôs gymnastics team moved up 11 spots in the NCAA rankings last week and continued its improvement despite losing a dual against No. 8 Arkansas Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion. Minnesota finished second in the meet with 194.85 points, marking the teamâÄôs fourth consecutive competition scoring more than 194 points. The Razorbacks came up victorious, earning 196.925 points. Gophers head coach Meg Stephenson said that even though they came up short of Arkansas, she is still satisfied with her teamâÄôs performance. âÄúArkansas is an amazing team,âÄù Stephenson said. âÄúI think it was really fun for the local fans to have a team like Arkansas to come in to compete.âÄù On vault, Minnesota earned 48.475 points , and senior Alexis Russell scored a season-best 9.875 to finish third in the event. Sophomore Lucy Ennis took fourth place with a score of 9.825, which ties her personal-best vault score. Russell said the team has been working on things they can do individually to contribute to the team. âÄúI think everybodyâÄôs been focusing on having the best performance not for the team but for themselves âÄî and then that score is going to be good enough for the team,âÄù said Russell. On the uneven bars, Russell and junior captain Kristin Furukawa both scored 9.825 to tie for third, helping the Gophers to a 48.9-point finish. Balance beam was MinnesotaâÄôs lowest score of the night, but the Gophers still scored more than 48 points, finishing with 48.375. Furukawa scored a 9.9 to tie for first place on the event. The Gophers last rotation was floor exercise, where they scored their best score of the night with 49.1 points, their highest floor score this season. Russell was MinnesotaâÄôs all-around competitor earning 39.35 , putting her in third overall behind two Razorbacks gymnasts. Men earn second at Penn State On the road for a third straight meet, the No. 7 Gophers menâÄôs gymnastics team could not come out on top in a tri-meet against No. 6 Penn State and No. 11 Temple in State College, Pa. Minnesota finished second with 348.25 points behind the first-place Nittany Lions, who scored 350.15. Straggling in third place was Temple, finishing with 330.9 points. Pommel horse was the GophersâÄô toughest rotation, where they scored just 54.85 points. Freshman Harris Coleman helped out on the event, scoring a season-best 15.1, but there were also three falls on the event. âÄúWe had some guys come off the pommel horse and you canâÄôt do that,âÄù Minnesota head coach Mike Burns said. However, the Gophers scored a season-best score on the rings, earning 57.75 points to help boost their overall score. Minnesota also earned a season-best total on the parallel bars with 58.1 points. Sophomore Russell Dabritz and senior Aaron Fortunato scored 14.85 and 14.6, respectively, which are the top two marks of the season for the Gophers. Fortunato said heâÄôs content with his individual score, but noted that he was âÄúnot satisfied.âÄù Minnesota finished the night on the vault earning 63.05 points with an amazing performance by senior Andre Berry, who lead the way finishing with 16.1 points. Burns said he wasnâÄôt completely happy but mentioned that road meets are always tougher, and the meet had some high notes. âÄúWe had some real highlights, so I was pleased with that,âÄù he said. After an extended road trip, the Gophers return 7 p.m. March 13 at the Sports Pavilion for a meet with Iowa and the University of Illinois at Chicago.