Women’s gymnastics scores its best team mark of year in loss

Sam Campanaro

The machine coach Jim Stephenson calls the women’s gymnastics team was the most in tune it has been all season Saturday night.

However, Iowa State’s machine was running just a little bit smoother. The Gophers fell to the Cyclones 196.55 to 196.40.

The Gophers turned in their top score of the season against the 20th-ranked Cyclones, which will help them to move up from their current 22nd-place ranking.

The .15 point win for Iowa State meant Minnesota lost by a bobble on beam, a straight leg on the bars or a tighter landing on vault. These small errors are nothing that can’t be fixed with a little more focus from the women, gymnast Leigh Dixon said.

Two vital parts continuing to bring the Minnesota machine to the level of performance required for national recognition are Dixon and Alicia Opsahl.

Dixon stuck her landing on the vault and scored 9.85 for first place.

Opsahl scored a 9.95 on the floor which tied the current team record and won first place.

“We brought everything together tonight,” Dixon said. “We were focused and we knew what we wanted to do and it turned out great.”

The Gophers were able to put out top performances without two important veterans, Annie Laatsch and Carrie Hortsch. Laatsch is out due to a knee injury and Hortsch due to an elbow injury. Laatsch is expected to return this season but Hortsch is not.

These two injuries have allowed underclassmen to gear up for the opportunity and find their places among the well-oiled veterans.

The new parts of the machine, Erin Murphy, Laura Johnson and Maria Opsahl are gaining experience in their freshman seasons.

“It’s hard to come in as a freshman and compete,” Alicia Opsahl said. “They are doing so great; we have become reliant on them.”

It has taken the Gophers a few meets to perform cleanly. The injuries threw a wrench into the team’s plan but the freshmen are slowly gaining confidence with each meet.

Attitude has become the grease keeping the gears moving for the Gophers. Hitting routines, adding difficulty, and putting it all together are what Stephenson is looking for from the Gophers.

“The only thing we lack is knowing we are good and it’s taken a few meets for us to realize how good we are,” Opsahl said.