U freshman breaks all-around record

Susan Filkins

She has lived in Minnesota for just two months and competed in only six Gophers women’s gymnastics meets. But freshman Judith Cavazos has already landed a spot in the Minnesota history books.
Cavazos broke the school all-around record, scoring a 39.3 on her way to winning the all-around title Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion in a dual meet with No. 3 Utah. Despite Cavazos’s unbelievable performance, the No. 16 Gophers lost a close one to the Utes, 195 to 195.05.
The previous holders of the all-around record are considered the elite gymnasts in Gophers history. Marie Roethlisberger established the all-around school record in 1990 with a 39.075. Last year Gophers junior Mindy Knaeble tied Roethlisberger’s mark.
But now it solely belongs to Cavazos, Minnesota’s prodigy from Monterrey, Mexico.
“I am not surprised because I really thought this was going to happen,” Gophers coach Jim Stephenson said. “To have it happen six meets into her first season, that really thrills me.”
Not only did Cavazos break the school record in the all-around, but she did it by recording personal bests in all four events for the Gophers (5-3). She finished in the top three in all events including the floor exercise where she tied for first place with senior teammate Kristen Vandersall.
“I am so happy,” Cavazos said. “I feel so great just competing and being part of the team. I think with every meet I have more control over myself.”
Before Cavazos came to Minnesota, she was the No. 1 female gymnast in Mexico and a five-time member of the Mexican national team.
“I have seen a lot of tapes of Judith, and I think she is performing probably the best she ever has,” Stephenson said.
Along with Cavazos’s records, the entire Minnesota team set a school record with its highest team score ever (195.0). Stephenson said earlier this week that he didn’t feel anyone in the country was capable of beating Utah (5-1). His team nearly proved him wrong.
“To set a new school record and to hit the 195 mark, which has been a plateau we have worked a long time for, and then to contest against Utah as we did, was very legitimate,” Stephenson said.
The narrow margin loss to the Utes represents the closest defeat the Gophers have suffered all season. The experience gained by nearly defeating a perennial powerhouse like Utah will only benefit Minnesota the rest of the season.
And it’s likely Minnesota will move up in the rankings after a showing like Saturday’s.
“I think it will definitely boost people’s confidence that we are Minnesota, and boy are we good,” senior co-captain Jonda Hammons said.
And Hammons added that the team’s goal of a Big Ten title — and hopefully a berth in the NCAA tournament — is within reach.
“As a team, that is what our goal is to do,” Hammons said. “If we keep the confidence and the energy, I think we are well on the road.”
Stephenson agreed and added that in coming within five-tenths of a point of beating Utah was a special accomplishment for his team.
“To score that well at home against Utah on the same floor at the same time is really, really thrilling for us,” Stephenson said. “It was a major step forward.”