Early problems doom Gophers

Minn. counted a fall and scored a 48.225 on the beam, forcing them to climb from behind.

Luke Middendorf

Unlike many other sports, a gymnastics score is tallied not just by performance, but how someone judges that performance.

Although the Minnesota women’s gymnastics team had to count a fall on its first event at the Big Ten Championship at Michigan on Saturday, its coaches and gymnasts thought they still put out one of their best performances of the season.

That thought of a good performance was not reflected by the judges in the final score, however, as the Gophers placed sixth out of seven teams with a score of 194.425.

Finishing in first was the host team Michigan with a 196.750. Illinois was second with a 195.750, while Penn State rounded out the top three by tallying a 195.625.

“In this stage of the game it’s kind of hard to count a fall and beat people, especially in our conference,” Minnesota’s co-head coach Meg Stephenson said. “We had to count a 9.225 when we wished we could have counted a 9.825.”

Stephenson added that it is always tough to start a meet on the balance beam because judges generally give higher beam scores as the meet goes on, which puts the first team performing at a disadvantage.

Starting the meet “in the hole” by receiving a 48.225 on the beam, the Gophers were able to bounce back with solid performance on the floor exercise, led by junior Carmelina Carabajal’s 9.800.

Carabajal and senior Ashley Mutchler had two of their best performances of the season on floor, Stephenson said, but it was ironically some of the lowest scores they have received all year.

“Our coaches were very quick to encourage us of our performances on Saturday,” Mutchler said. “All we can do is perform to the best of our abilities, and that all that really matters.”

Minnesota continued to improve its scores as the meet went on with a 48.700 on the vault and a 48.825 on the bars.

But their low scores in the beginning of the meet – combined with not putting up overwhelmingly high scores the rest of the evening – was too much to overcome for the Gophers in the end.

“It was disappointing because there was some really great gymnastics being performed, but we weren’t getting the reward through the scores that we might have deserved,” Minnesota senior Ashley Stanton said.

One factor that could have impacted the scoring at Michigan on Saturday was the selection of judges; it was confirmed that five of the six states represented had at least two judges present.

The only state with no judges at the meet, however, was Minnesota.

“To have no judges from a state where there is a team is not right,” Stephenson said.

But Stephenson was quick to say that no one person or factor should be pointed to for the Gophers score on Saturday, adding that specifically no blame will be given to the judges.

“We’re trying to have our team reflect on our performance and not our scores, because our performance was really good,” she said.

Carabajal All-Big Ten

Shown through a fourth-place finish in the all-around at the Big Ten Championship on Saturday, Gophers junior Carmelina Carabajal is one of the top female gymnasts in the conference.

Carabajal was awarded on Mar. 28 with All-Big Ten first team honors, leading Minnesota in average scoring for all four events as well as the all around.

With 19 event titles to her name this season, Carabajal has more event titles than any other Gophers gymnast.