Uneven performance on bars disappoints

Matt Perkins

When it came time for the MVP of the Best of Minnesota event, held Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion, to be named there was really only one choice ” Laura Johnson.

Minnesota’s women’s gymnastics team’s senior all-around competitor put together her best all-around score of the season, and posted another season-best on floor exercise with a 9.900.

But putting the positives aside, co-coaches Jim and Meg Stephenson focused on how their team had one of its worst performances on the uneven bars.

Despite winning the meet with a team score of 191.775, they had one of their “worst performances in school history,” Jim Stephenson said.

“The uneven bar tonight was one of the more unfortunate performances I’ve ever seen from this team ever,” Jim Stephenson said. “Only two out of our six competitors came to perform.”

He went on to use the words horrifying and catastrophic to describe the event where the Gophers finished with a team score of 46.700.

And Johnson, Minnesota’s team leader, echoed the coach’s sentiments.

“It’s so disappointing when you see that happening and nobody steps up around you,” Johnson said. “Luckily Stephanie Funk bailed us out a bit in there.”

Johnson posted the team’s best bars score with a 9.775, and Funk was the team’s second best performer with a 9.575.

In other events the Gophers saw some personal bests, specifically in the floor exercise event where freshman Carmelina Carabajal shined.

So did the rest of the team.

The Gophers hit a team score of 48.750 on floor, their best event of the meet.

“Floor is our event that you can go as big as you want,” Carabajal said. “We love to go all out and just have fun with it as a team.”

But the success on floor doesn’t make their performances on bars any better.

And now the Gophers prepare to travel and take on second-ranked Utah next weekend.

Meg Stephenson said the team has today off, and they better use it as a team to do some thinking and regroup.

“I don’t believe it was physical at all,” Meg Stephenson said. “It was mental and it’s going to take some work to get around. But I know this team is going to work hard, refocus and be ready for Utah.”

Men lose in strong showing

Minnesota’s men’s gymnastics team had an encouraging 213.800-209.150 loss to Michigan over the weekend.

Typically it is hard to find positives in a loss, but it’s a bit easier when you’re losing to the eighth-ranked team in the country, coach Mike Burns said.

The ninth-ranked Gophers posted their best score of the season ” by nearly six points.

“We obviously are disappointed that we lost the meet, but we were able to put together our best team score,” Burns said. “But we definitely left with some positives out of the meet.”

The biggest positive for Minnesota was the continued emergence of junior all-around competitor Jake Lee, who won his third consecutive all-around by posting a 54.600.

“Jake’s a very intense individual,” Burns said. “He is a real cool, calm and collective kind of competitor, and those are the kinds of people that are the bedrock of the program. You build things around them. I think he’s going to turn some heads the rest of the year.”