U women’s gymnasts lose blowout at Utah

by Michael Dougherty

Disappointed and frustrated were two words Gophers women’s gymnast Mindy Knaeble used to describe how she felt about her team’s performance in Friday night’s dual meet with second-ranked Utah in Salt Lake City.
A strong showing on the balance beam allowed Utah to open a considerable margin which the Gophers could not make up. Utah outscored Minnesota on the beam 48.875 to 47.275 on their way to a 194.950 to 192.175 victory.
“I’m a little disappointed,” Knaeble said. “The beam really frustrated us as a team.”
The dual meet, which is called the Red Robin Invitational, drew 9,116 fans at the Huntsman Center.
Co-head coaches Jim and Meg Stephenson had high hopes as their team headed to Utah in hopes of knocking off the Utes.
The two had been assistants under Utah coach Greg Marsden before coming to Minnesota six years ago.
They both said they felt the Gophers were poised to head into Salt Lake City and upset the Utes, owners of 10 national championships.
But Utah freshman Shannon Bowles played spoiler in the Stephensons’ coup attempt, as she took first place in the vault, beam, floor exercise and the all-around.
Bowles took second in the uneven bars with a score of 9.90. She lost out to teammate Angie Leonard, who scored a 9.925.
The only Gopher to place in the top three in any event was sophomore Judith Cavazos. She tied for third in the floor exercise with a score of 9.725.
Bowles, who Jim Stephenson considers one of the top gymnasts in the nation, scored career highs in both the vault (9.925) and the bars en route to a 39.500 in the all-around.
The top Gopher score of the night was turned in by junior Cathy Keyser. Keyser scored a 9.750 on the balance beam to finish in a tie for fourth place.
The Gophers return to action as hosts for Saturday night’s Best of Minnesota Meet. The meet, which will feature Hamline University, Winona State University and Gustavus Adolphus, will start at 7 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion.
Men’s gymnastics
The banged-up 17th ranked Gophers men’s gymnasts team left for Michigan on Thursday expecting this weekend’s dual meets with eighth-ranked Michigan State and 11th ranked Michigan would be tough.
They were right. On Friday night, head coach Fred Roethlisberger’s squad was victimized by a hot Michigan State squad, which set a new school record in pummeling the Gophers 228.425 to 221.750.
The Spartans were led by Keith Douglas and Kenny Baker, both of whom took first place in two events.
On the Gophers side, junior Jason Krob took second on the pommel horse with a score of 9.750. Senior co-captain George Beatty took third in the same event by scoring a 9.600.
Also taking second for the Gophers was sophomore Chad Conner, who scored a 9.600 on the high bar.
Sophomore Ryan Winterbourne captured two third-place finishes on the still rings and the parallel bars.
Things didn’t get much better for Minnesota on Saturday. Even though the Gophers recorded their highest team score of the season, the Wolverines soundly defeated them 226.850-222.575.
Despite the loss, Beatty turned in one of the best performances by a Gophers gymnast this season, as he took titles in both the pommel horse and the parallel bars with a 9.750 in each event.
The Gophers, who have lost senior co-captain Bob Hubbard, junior Dan Boots and freshman Todd Guilbeau for the season because of injuries, return to action against No. 10 Nebraska at the Sports Pavilion on Feb. 27.