Gophers try to improve score for fourth straight week

After a season best 195.35 last week, Minnesota is still looking to improve.

by Mark Heise

If current trends stay the same, things are really looking up for the Minnesota women’s gymnastics team.

The Gophers improved their score for the third consecutive meet last weekend, reaching a season-high score of 195.35 against Iowa State.

And Minnesota hopes to continue this trend Saturday at the Sports Pavilion as it faces Washington at 6 p.m.

“It’s almost a relief and an excitement at the same time,” senior Kelly Ganchan said of the team’s return to the 195-range. “We want to take what we did last week, and do the same thing at home, maybe improving on some of the little things as well.”

One big improvement for the Gophers last week was on balance beam, as Minnesota took its top four routines and moved them to start the event instead of finish it.

Coach Jim Stephenson said he thought it helped, and the score reflected that as the Gophers improved their beam score by 1.1 points.

“I thought people were really focused,” Stephenson said. “We’re going to keep that rotation since it worked so well for us. It’s nice to get that event back towards where we want it to be.”

Unlike Minnesota’s troubles earlier on the beam, the team’s scores on the floor exercise have soared past 49 points for the last two weeks.

The Gophers have found themselves at the top of their game on the vault as well, reaching a season-high score of 48.9, which impressed Stephenson.

“Our calculation for potential score on the vault

was actually lower than what we received at Iowa,” he said.

“So we’ve pretty much maxed out our potential on the vault.”

And with so many positives on Minnesota’s side late in the season, the only real priority left is staying healthy.

“We’re being really careful with our athletes right now,” he said. “Our practices are still demanding, but we’re staying away from anything that’s physically abusive.”

With three meets left before the Big Ten championship, sophomore Jade Beattie expressed confidence in her team.

“We know we can keep improving over these last few weeks, and that’s our focus right now,” she said. “We’re gaining more and more confidence as the weeks go by.

“We’re having more success both in practice and at meets, and we’re feeling pretty good about it.”

Men to Nebraska

The eighth-ranked Minnesota men’s team hopes to continue its upward climb as well, heading to No. 10 Nebraska on Sunday at 7 p.m.

The Gophers are just two meets removed from their Big Ten championship, but appear to be peaking at the right time, collecting a season-high score of 216.5 last weekend.