Gophers mount comeback versus Arizona State on senior night

Minnesota was behind Arizona State until the final event.

by Erik Nelson

With the meet coming down to the final event, the Gophers needed sophomore Paige Williams to hit a floor routine that would complete Minnesota’s comeback against Arizona State on Saturday night.

Williams received a score of 9.900, which was enough for the Gophers (7-6, 3-4 Big Ten) to top the Sun Devils (4-7, 3-3 Pac 12) 196.675 to 196.525.

Williams said she was happy to clinch the win for Minnesota on senior night.

“I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of our team,” Williams said. “I wanted to perform and do great for the seniors.”

Williams, freshman Lexy Ramler and senior Ciara Gardner tied for the floor event title. Each gymnast received a score of 9.900, Minnesota’s final event of the day. On beam, Ramler won the event title, receiving a score of 9.950. 

Head coach Jenny Hansen said Minnesota wasn’t focused on the score heading into the final event.

“I knew it was close, but we wanted to keep attacking our performances, going after it and finishing on a high note,” Hansen said. “They did that, so I’m proud of them.”

Ramler won the vault title, receiving a score of 9.850. Sophomore Ivy Lu won the bars title with a score of 9.950. 

Ramler won the all-around and earned a score of 39.375. Arizona State’s Anne Kuhm finished in second.

After the final results were announced, the Gophers honored their four seniors: Gardner, Abby DeMuse, Hannah Hitchcock and Rachel Rowland.

Each gymnast received a bouquet of flowers from Hansen. A video honoring the seniors aired on the videoboards at Maturi Pavilion featuring some of Minnesota’s underclassmen. The seniors posed with family and friends for photos during the ceremony.

Hitchcock said winning on senior night was one of the highlights of her Minnesota career.

“We had so many fans today. The energy in here was amazing,” Hitchcock said. “I’m thankful for the support I have. I had so many family members here.”

Minnesota’s next meet will be on Friday against Sacramento State, Alaska and the University of California Berkeley in Sacramento, California at 9 p.m. Minnesota hosts the 2018 NCAA Regionals on April 7.

“We talked together as a group. I told them how proud I was of how we did tonight,” Hansen said. “What a way to cap off their home careers.”