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Women score big, upset No. 1 Michigan at home

When Gophers gymnast Janell Campbell stepped onto the floor Saturday night, her team trailed No. 1 Michigan by less than a tenth of a point.

When she finished her floor exercise, her team had edged the Wolverines by 0.025 of a point.

No. 12 Minnesota scored the fourth-most points in school history to beat Michigan 196.8-196.775 at the Sports Pavilion.

Minnesota trailed the Wolverines by 0.1 points entering the final rotation. But the team’s score of 49.45 on floor, highlighted by freshman Lindsay Mable’s 9.925 and Campbell‘s 9.9, gave the Gophers the victory.

Central Michigan finished third with a team score of 194.65, and Iowa State finished fourth at 193.95.

Campbell said she had no idea what the score was when she started her floor routine.

“I just knew I had to be in the correct mindset and just go out there and do what I do every time,” she said.

Coach Meg Stephenson said the Gophers were not intimidated and kept their composure down the stretch.

“This team I think really believes in themselves,” she said. “And the reason they do is because they do the work. They’re going out there [at meets] and doing what they do in practice.”

Minnesota dominated the floor event with five scores of 9.875 or higher. Mable won the event, and Campbell was second.

On bars, sophomore Cierra Tomson finished tied for second with a 9.825 while freshman Madie Hanley finished tied for fifth with a career-high 9.8.

Mable won the balance beam with a career-high 9.9, freshman Hanna Nordquist finished tied for second with a 9.85 and junior Justine Cherwink had a career-best 9.8.

Junior Kayla Slechta tied for first in the vault with a 9.95 — the second time in as many home meets she has won the event with that score. Sophomore Jenny Covers scored a career-best 9.9 to finish third.

Stephenson said the vault gave the team a spark right away.

“They knew what to do with the spark,” Stephenson said.

Mable won the all-around competition over Michigan’s Katie Zurales and Joanna Sampson with a career-high score of 39.450.

Covers finished fourth in the all-around competition with a 39.175.

Men beat Air Force

The men’s gymnastics team won its first home meet of the season Saturday, beating Air Force 430.6-404.45 at the Sports Pavilion.

Minnesota scored a season-high in four of six events in the win.

Junior Josh Wokurka scored a career-high 15.2 to win the floor exercise. He also had a career-high on rings (14.8) to finish fourth.

Wokurka said going through his routines in his head and staying positive has helped keep his confidence.

“If you go through them enough in your head, it’s like you’ve done them a million times already when you actually raise your hand to perform,” he said.

Coach Mike Burns said he was pleased the team was able to hit most of its routines. Minnesota counted two “missed” routines Saturday compared to eight a week ago, he said.

“We had a couple of routines that were pretty ugly,” Burns said, “but they didn’t [fall] off. That was really good to see.”

Burns said the team is performing better than he expected for this time of the season, but it ran out of gas to close the meet.

“I wanted to put an exclamation point at the end of this meet,” he said. “High bar was just a little soft.”

High bar was the lowest-scoring event of the day for both Minnesota and Air Force.

Freshman Jack Metcalf won rings with a score of 14.95. As a team, the Gophers scored 73.2 points on the event, two points better than last weekend at the Windy City Invitational.

On the pommel horse, sophomore Ellis Mannon scored a career-high 15.1 to win the event.

“It’s been kind of a barrier for me to break 15 [points],” Mannon said. “So to finally get it, at home, is great.”

Burns said he was also pleased with junior Nathan Fortunato’s performance. Fortunato, who redshirted the past two seasons, filled in for John Scallon on pommel horse.

Junior Zack Chase won the vault with a score of 15.3. Chase improved his score by almost two points from last week.

The Gophers had four of the top-five highest scores on vault and parallel bars, and they had the top-four scores on high bar.

Minnesota featured six gymnasts on high bar this week, compared to only five last week, meaning the team could drop its lowest score.

As part of a new rule change in NCAA gymnastics this year, each team will use only five gymnasts on each event beginning later this spring.

“I think we’re ahead of every other team in the country because we had a chance to do it last week,” Burns said about having five gymnasts compete in the event.

Burns said Minnesota’s goal for next Saturday’s meet against Nebraska and Illinois-Chicago is to score at least 70 points on every event. Minnesota on Saturday scored above 70 points on five of the six events.

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