Men’s gymnastics tumble in loss to Michigan

Sam Campanaro

Coach Fred Roethlisberger said his team was feeling optimistic after competing well against Iowa and Illinois. Going into their meet against Michigan on Saturday the Gopher gymnasts once again hoped to fare well.

However, Minnesota turned a performance that Roethlisberger called “embarrassing.”

The fourth-ranked Wolverines beat the ninth-ranked Gophers 212.350 to 208.975. Though bothered by fatigue and injury, Minnesota was able to turn in its second highest score of the season.

“If we were going to have any chance at all we needed to be ahead,” Roethlisberger said.

Instead the Gophers dug themselves into a hole in their first two events, the floor exercise and pommel horse. The Gophers hit only four out of the first 12 routines in competition.

“One of our best events is floor and we should’ve been at least two points higher,” senior Tim Koehler said. “Those two points would have helped in the all-around.”

Koehler was nursing an injured neck and shoulder. This left him out of the pommel horse and still ring competitions and led to a fall on horizontal bar.

Minnesota continued to show signs of angst on the horizontal bar and parallel bars. However, the team posted its highest scores on vault and still rings.

Big Ten Gymnast of the Week Guillermo Alvarez was coming off a fourth place finish at the Winter Cup in Las Vegas on Feb. 7-8.

The combination of fatigue from that event and what teammate Koehler called a “slight ankle injury” led Alvarez to fall on both the floor exercise and horizontal bar.

Minnesota’s only bright spot was once again Clay Strother, who posted his highest all-around score of the season at 54.925 to win the all-around title.

The meet against Michigan left Minnesota unsure what caused the poor performances.

“We were looking a little rough in the gym this week,” Strother said.

But Koehler took solace in the team’s score despite its struggles in Saturday’s meet.

“We didn’t do our job and we still got a pretty decent score,” Koehler said. “That gives me confidence that when we actually do our job, we’re going to be up there and we’re going to be competitive with other teams.”

Women’s tennis

Junior Angela Buergis upset No. 41 Jennifer McGaffigan at No. 1 singles, 6-4, 6-7 (8), 6-3, but it wasn’t enough as Minnesota’s women’s tennis team fell to No. 49 Illinois, 4-3, at the Baseline Tennis. No. 50 Minnesota goes to 4-2 and 1-1 in the Big Ten.

Illinois clinched the match at No. 3 singles as Eldina Fazlic defeated Minnesota’s Amy Thomas in three sets, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5. The Gophers got victories from Buergis, Michaela Havelkova at No. 4 and Nischela Reddy at No. 5.

Illinois claimed the doubles point with victories in two of the three matches. The Gophers’ Valerie Vladea and Thomas cruised at No. 2 doubles with an 8-1 victory.

Softball

Minnesota’s softball team tied sixth-ranked Washington, 5-5, Sunday after nine innings in the final game of the 2003 Pepsi Arizona Classic in Tucson, Ariz. The two teams agreed to call it a game in the extra innings due to team travel arrangements.

Women’s gymnastics

Minnesota’s women’s gymnastics team won its triangular meet against Illinois and Illinois-Chicago in Champaign, Ill. The Gophers posted a 195.950 score to beat second place Illinois-Chicago and third place Illinois. As a team, the Gophers won the floor exercise and the vault.

The Gophers got off to a solid start as Carolyn Yernberg won the vault with a 9.900, while Laura Johnson took second (9.875) and Leigh Dixon took third (9.825). Mary Skokut gave the Gophers their highest finish on bars as she totaled a 9.875 to earn third place.

The Gophers had their way on floor exercise as Yernberg captured her second individual title with a 9.95.

Men’s tennis

The Minnesota men’s tennis team was defeated by Wake Forest, 4-3, in Richmond, Va., on Saturday afternoon. The 10th-ranked Gophers fell to 7-1 on the season.

The Sunday match with No. 16 Virginia Commonwealth was cancelled due to poor weather conditions. The match will not be rescheduled.

The Demon Deacons began the match by winning the doubles point with three victories. David Loewenthal and Trent Brendon defeated Minnesota’s Thomas Haug and Avery Ticer, 9-8 (3), at No. 1 doubles.

In singles, Minnesota claimed wins at the No. 1, 2 and 3 positions, but could not get the needed fourth victory. Haug defeated Loewenthal at No. 1 by a score of 6-4, 6-4 and Aleksey Zharinov got by David Bere, 6-2, 6-1 at No. 2. Chris Wettengel defeated Derrick Spice at No. 3, 7-5, 6-1.

Wake Forest’s Brendon clinched the match for the Demon Deacons as he handed Clay Estes his first loss of the season at No. 6, 6-2, 6-3.

Women’s track and field

Minnesota’s weekend at the Iowa State Classic was highlighted by two record-breaking performances.

Senior Shani Marks claimed first place in the triple jump and

automatically qualified for NCAA competition with her jump of 13.31. The jumps broke her previous record of 13.14 set on Jan. 11, 2003, at the Northwest Open.

Kou Luogon shattered the school record of 55.47 held by senior teammate Jessica Shuster with a finish of 54.78 in the 400-meter dash. Luogon placed third in the event.

In the distance events, Minnesota was solid with junior Darja Vasiljeva taking fifth place in the 3000-meter run finishing at 9:29.26. Vasiljeva also qualified provisionally for NCAA competition.

Men’s track and field

The Minnesota men’s track and field team was led by junior sprinter Mitch Potter on the final day of competition at the Iowa State Classic.

Potter set a meet record while automatically qualifying for NCAA competition with a first place finish of 45.89 in the 400-meter dash. Potter’s time also smashes the University of Minnesota record of 45.96, which he set in 2002.

In addition, Potter anchored the Minnesota “A” 4×400-meter relay squad, which captured first place with a time of 3:06.03.

The shot put event was also successful for the Gophers. Sophomore Karl Erickson grabbed second place with a throw of 18.33.

Minnesota had success on day one of competition when the men’s distance medley relay team provisionally qualified for the NCAA Championships on Friday. The Gophers posted a time of 9:40.41.