Women’s gymnastics starts year

Michael Dougherty

The 1998 season for the Minnesota women’s gymnastics team got off to a successful start Saturday evening.
Molly Umland’s Gold team defeated Mindy Knaeble’s Maroon team 168.900 to 167.525 as the team held its annual Intrasquad Meet at the Sports Pavilion.
Gopher co-head coach Jim Stephenson was particularly pleased with his squad’s performance considering rule changes that go into effect this season.
“By putting more emphasis on form and technique, the changes essentially make it more difficult to get a high score,” he said.
Despite these changes, the Gophers still managed to put together a team score of 190.475. The team score is based on the top five scores in four events: the vault, the uneven bars, the balance beam and the floor exercise.
Knaeble, the reigning Big Ten champion and a first-team All-American, took the title in the floor exercise with a 9.75, the highest score of the night. The senior from New Hope, Minn., also won the balance beam by scoring 9.675.
Judy Cavazos, a sophomore from Mexico, won the uneven parallel bars with a score of 9.625. With an overall score of 37.375, Cavazos won the all-around crown.
Winning the vault with a score of 9.7 was senior Kim Sveum, followed closely by fellow senior Stacey Batza, who scored a 9.675.
Stephenson, who is co-head coach with his wife Meg, was also encouraged by the efforts of senior Mindy Myhre. Myhre, who had not practiced for the last two weeks, had to take shots in her back before the meet to relieve the pain.
Despite the nagging injury, she scored a 9.575 in the floor exercise, good enough for third place.
The Gophers now turn their attention to this Saturday’s meet with Alabama, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion. Last season, Alabama finished ninth at the NCAA Championships, while Minnesota took 10th place.
“I feel we have something exciting here, and I would like to get more fans involved,” Jim Stephenson said. “I’ve had fans come up and tell me that we are the best-kept secret in Minnesota.”