Men, women fall to Big Ten foes in weekend duals

Both squads saw deflated scores for a variety of reasons in road competitions.

Alexandra Pluym

The Gophers womenâÄôs gymnastics team ended with some disappointing scores Saturday, falling to Big Ten rival No. 13 Michigan in Ann Arbor. Michigan protected itâÄôs home floor, defeating Minnesota with 195.05 points. The Gophers ended with 189.475 points, the teamâÄôs lowest score of the season. Minnesota also had its lowest scores of the season in each of the events. On the uneven bars, the Gophers came out with 47.95 points, their highest score on an event Saturday night. In other events, the Gophers finished with 46.1 points on the balance beam, 47.875 on floor exercise and 47.55 on vault. Senior Alexis Russell also had her lowest performance of the season on vault ending with a surprising 7.050 points. Russell, the teamâÄôs best all-around competitor, only competed on vault and the uneven bars. âÄúWe had a little bit of an equipment problem,âÄù Gophers head coach Meg Stephenson said . âÄúShe has a minor injury, but itâÄôs nothing serious.âÄù Despite RussellâÄôs low vault performance, she was the highest performer on the bars for Minnesota with 9.725 points, tying for a sixth place finish overall on the event, behind five Wolverines. Juniors Ana Balboa and Kendra Elm both had notable nights as well. Balboa was the top performer in two events âÄî beam and floor âÄî finishing with 9.775 and 9.725 points, respectively. Elm was the top all-around performer for the Gophers, finishing third for the meet. Stephenson said she believes the team hasnâÄôt yet figured out how to transfer certain skills from practice and home meets on the road. âÄúThey do not know how to compete away from home,âÄù she said. âÄúOr theyâÄôre not confident [on the road].âÄù If this is the case, this team only has three more home meets, including one next week against another Big Ten rival, No. 20 Illinois. Stephenson said the team should do well against Illinois, but that Illinois, an NCAA Championship qualifier last year, will be a tough opponent. She also said that Saturday night âÄúneeds to be a turning point for this team.âÄù Men fall to Illini The Gophers menâÄôs gymnastics team struggled in its first meet in two weeks and first on the road since opening the season in Chicago for the Windy City Invitational. No. 2 Illinois, the host, took home first place with a final score of 350.65, while No. 7 Minnesota settled with the second-place finish, ending Saturday night with 342.150 points. In five of the six events, the men scored fewer points than from two weeks ago. Minnesota struggled most on the parallel bars, earning just 54.75 points, and pommel horse, ending with 54.80. The Gophers did finish with 56.25 on high bar, which was their only improvement this week. Helping on floor were seniors Colin McGuire and Adam Reichow finishing second and third, respectively, overall in the event. Also, back in competition for the first time this season was senior Cole Storer competing on the floor, vault and bar, ending with scores of 13.75, 15.8, and 13.4, respectively. The Gophers have the upcoming weekend off from competition, but Minnesota head coach Mike Burns said the team will still hold competitive practice this week and through the weekend. âÄúHaving a break from competition gives your body a little break,âÄù he said. âÄúIt [also] gives us a chance to work on our problem spots.âÄù The Gophers menâÄôs gymnastics teamâÄôs next match up is at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27 against No. 4 Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.