Carabajal pulls down No. 14 finish at championships

The junior had the best score of individual qualifiers and was the Big Ten’s top finisher.

A few days before Gophers junior Carmelina Carabajal competed as the team’s only participant in last Thursday’s NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championship in Georgia, Minnesota co-head coach Meg Stephenson said she knew Carabajal would be a great representative for the Gophers.

Earning an all-around score of 39.0 to place No. 14 in the session – the top score of any all-around participant not affiliated with a competing team – Carabajal not only represented her team well, but also the entire conference.

Her score of 39.0 also placed her as the top all around competitor among gymnasts from the Big Ten, in front of women from Ohio State, Penn State and Illinois.

With all but one of the gymnasts that scored ahead of her in the all around from teams in the SEC or Big 12 conference, the Gophers lone participant helped put both Minnesota and Big Ten gymnastics on the map with the top gymnastics schools in the nation.

“We expected Carmelina to be a fabulous representative of not only Minnesota, but the Big Ten Conference, and she was all we hoped she would be,” said co-head coach Meg Stephenson.

Carabajal’s best performance at the meet was on beam, where she earned a 9.800 to tie for No. 11. She earned a 9.775 on floor to tie for No. 31, 9.750 on bars to tie for No. 37 and a 9.675 on vault to place for No. 34.

Rotating with Florida’s team, who placed No. 1 out of six teams in Thursday’s team preliminary and claimed four of the top-six all around competitors, Carabajal was able to get a firsthand look at one of the top teams in the nation.

With her one year remaining as a Gophers gymnast, Carabajal said she will take this championship experience to help spur her team on so they all can compete in next year’s competition.

“We are so proud of her, and so happy that she was able to have this experience competing on the national stage,” Stephenson said.