Women’s gymnasts ready for road trip

Jill Shirley

The Minnesota women’s gymnastics team can’t wait to get away from the snow this weekend.
“I’m very excited. We’re lucky to be going someplace warm,” sophomore MaryAnne Kelley said.
The Gophers travel to Arizona this weekend for the Arizona State Uno Classic tonight in Tempe and a meet against Arizona on Sunday in Tuscon.
The Uno Classic is a competition with not only sixth-ranked Arizona State, but top-ranked Alabama and No. 4 Utah.
“As the underdog, we’re going down with a huge challenge in front of us,” women’s gymnastics co-coach Jim Stephenson said.
“It’ll really be a competition; it pushes you to do better,” senior Melissa Chang said. “Going in the underdog, (we need to) take that energy and turn it around.”
Sunday’s meet figures to be less strenuous. Minnesota faces Arizona on Sunday — a team they beat significantly at a meet in January.
The team is hoping to get back into the top 12 with these two meets, though it’ll take getting an average of 9.75 on each event at both meets to achieve that.
To prepare, Minnesota has been working on cleaning everything up, especially balance beams and uneven bars, two events have been giving the team problems. Stephenson said he has been putting the gymnasts in a performance situation during practice, hoping that will create less margin for error during the actual competition.
“I think the whole team’s been thinking about that,” senior Kristi Sellinger said. “I’m feeling pretty confident; we did really well at our last meet.”
With the end of the season looming ahead, thoughts of possibly earning a spot in the NCAA championships has certainly been going through the team’s minds.
“We have a team with the capability of doing that,” Stephenson said. “We’re hoping to get two scores of 195 (this weekend).”
Two scores of 195 would get the Gophers back into the top 12. But the big question is, is it possible?
“We definitely have a chance,” Chang said, “(but) we’re taking it one meet at a time.”

Men’s gymnastics
Minnesota travels to Ohio State on Saturday to compete against Ohio State, Iowa and BYU. The team is right on the edge of the top 12 and a successful meet this weekend could put them into contention for the NCAA championship.
“Ohio State is a tough team; we’ll have to hit all of our routines to beat them,” senior Ryan Winterbourne said. “We almost beat Iowa at home, and BYU is about the same as us so it should be an interesting weekend.”
The team is hoping to score in the mid- to low-9s in every event, though they try not to worry about placings or scores very much. Instead, they’re focusing on hitting all of their routines.
“We have so much talent on the team that if we can all hit,” Winterbourne said, “we will win. This team is about building for the future.
“Whether or not we win or lose this year won’t be because of a lack of talent. The gymnasts are strong, the coaching is strong, and the next couple of years look to be really good for the Gopher gymnastics team.”
Softball
The Minnesota softball team lost 3-0 and 2-0 at the Triangle Classic North Carolina on Thursday. Pitcher Angie Recknor took both losses for the Gophers.
Minnesota’s record is now 3-5 on the year.