Women’s gymnastics finishes third, earns all-Big Ten honors

by Jill Shirley

Four members of the Minnesota women’s gymnastics team received all-Big Ten honors on Saturday at Penn State.
Freshman Leigh Dixon tied for fourth on vault, senior Judy Cavazos tied for fourth on the uneven bars, sophomore Megan Beuckens tied for third on floor exercise and MaryAnne Kelley placed third in the all-around with a 39.375. Beuckens also placed fifth in the all-around with a 39.300.
“We were just thrilled with our performance,” co-coach Jim Stephenson said. “The Big Ten meet just keeps getting better and better every year.”
The Gophers finished third with an overall score of 196.150. Michigan won its second consecutive Big Ten title with a 197.850 and Penn State held onto second, just four-tenths of a point in front of Minnesota.
Minnesota scored a 49.250 on the uneven bars, its second highest score of the season. The Gophers also scored a 49.10 on the floor, the ninth time this year they’ve scored above a 49.0 this season. Minnesota also garnered the highest score of the season on balance beam with a 48.950.
“That was probably what helped us the most,” Stephenson said.
The Gophers now gear up for the NCAA championships. Minnesota hosts the regionals at the Sports Pavilion on April 1. The championships take place April 13-15 at Boise State. Minnesota will be looking for consistency, as every tenth of a point counts at the nationals.
“As the teams have gotten better, and the issues have become smaller and are occurring less frequently, we’ll be taking considerations in the lineup,” Stephenson said.
He added that whoever has the greatest consistency will compete in the nationals, and they will continue to put the gymnasts in pressure situations during practice.
Men’s gymnastics
The Gophers men’s gymnasts finished seventh overall at the Big Ten Championships Friday.
It’s the third straight year Minnesota has finished at the bottom of the Big Ten, receiving a score of 222.850. Michigan won the title with a 232.100.
Freshman Clay Strother was the only Gopher to garner an all-Big Ten honor, tying for fourth on the pommel horse. He scored a disappointing 9.350 on the floor exercise, the lowest he’s scored all season. Ranked second in the nation on floor going in to the Big Ten, the score dropped Strother down to 22nd in the nation.
Other Gophers who placed included freshman Todd Guilbeau, who tied for 12th on the horizontal bar, and sophomore Justin Conner, who placed 13th on floor as well as in the all-around with a 55.000.
Minnesota now prepares for the NCAA championships, which take place March 30 to April 1 in Iowa City.