Minn. suffers rough weekend losses; Carabajal sits out with injury

After hitting rock bottom Friday night at Iowa State, Minnesota womenâÄôs gymnastics did not look ready to compete with teams like Nebraska and UCLA on Sunday. It couldnâÄôt help that they were without their fearless leader, Carmelina Carabajal , as well. Just as the Gophers were nearing the top level of performance and consistently scoring in the 195 region , the women fell hard on Friday night in Ames, losing to Iowa State and recording a season-low score of 191.475. Minnesota started the meet like any other, posting solid bars and vault scores. Then came a sudden turn of events in which the Gophers fell hard, literally. Two falls were counted on the floor, four on the beam. The unfortunate display led to the womenâÄôs lowest beam score of the season and the ultimate 191.475 score. Carabajal, FridayâÄôs all-around champion, led her struggling team yet again, picking up where her teammates left off. She won the beam (fourth this season), and was the GophersâÄô top floor performer. Carabajal also won the vault event, her second title this season. For a team that stays composed and focused at all times, and where falls are a rarity, even co-coach Meg Stephenson didnâÄôt know how to explain it. âÄúI think the falls were just a lack of focus. I donâÄôt know why that happened,âÄù Stephenson said. What Stephenson could explain, was that there was another turn of events between Friday night and Sunday afternoon. After a positive post-meet discussion after Iowa State , coach Stephenson said the women decided to put it behind them and look forward. âÄúWhatâÄôs really exciting is that they thought about what they did wrong, figured it out, and came in today and made the changes âÄîgot back on track,âÄù Stephenson said. Entering yesterdayâÄôs MasterâÄôs Classic in Lincoln Nebraska, Minnesota had another setback âÄî a serious one indeed. Carabajal, who carried her team Friday, suffered a pulled muscle in SundayâÄôs warm-ups . Now it was her teamâÄôs turn to step up and carry her. Junior Alexis Russell finished third in the all-around, and sophomore Kendra Elm tied for fourth with her highest all-around score ever (38.95). Elm was just one example of how the whole team rebounded and filled in for Carabajal. With barely any warm-ups, Elm was called into duty on the beam. âÄúAfter she had carried them on Friday for them to turn around and carry her this afternoon âÄî [that] was really exciting for the team,âÄù Stephenson said. âÄúWhen they all work together, we really have something special.âÄù Minnesota finished third overall. GophersâÄô menâÄôs gymnastics also tallied an uncharacteristic low score at Saturday nightâÄôs Pacific Coast Classic. But unlike the women, the men had no opportunities to rebound. A cut and dry 344.00 score placed Minnesota near the bottom among the best of the west and Big Ten. They scored a full 15 points lower than the event-champions, the Japanese All-Stars. Stanford and California, two of the nationâÄôs best teams, finished first and second respectively. What was also unusual was the GophersâÄô difficulties on usual specialties, including the vault, parallel bars, and high bar. Vault and parallel bars were second-lowest scores of the season, and high bar was a season low. ,