Gardner takes personality to the floor

The sophomore was second on the floor exercise Saturday against Maryland.

Sophomore Ciara Gardner competes on the Beam at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday.

Image by Alex Tuthill-Preus

Sophomore Ciara Gardner competes on the Beam at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday.

by Thomas Jaakola

Ciara Gardner competes in all four events for the Gophers, but two of them stand out above the rest.
The sophomore competed in all 14 of the team’s meets last year, and her highest-scoring events have been the floor exercise and the balance beam.
“For floor I get to show off a little bit of my personality and sassiness and [during beam] I get [to] show off my lines,” Gardner said.
Gardner’s highest score last year was a 9.900 on the floor, and her highest score on the balance beam was not far behind at 9.850.
She’s been successful in both events this season as well, placing second on the floor and third on the beam Jan. 16 against Maryland.
Gardner’s personality on the floor began to take shape during her 12-year tenure with the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy in Texas. While with the program she won the 2013 Level 10 Regionals floor exercise event.
“Ciara has a beautiful look to her gymnastics,” head coach Jenny Hansen said. “She is a very balanced gymnast, with both power and flexibility, but her flexibility and artistry really sets her apart. She trained at one of the most successful clubs in the country where artistry was an emphasis in their training, and that really shines through in her performances.”
Gardner and the Gophers have started the year off 2-0 after defeating the Terrapins last weekend, and she already has set her sights high in her second year.
“My goal this year is to go to nationals with my team and to enjoy every minute of competing,” Gardner said. “For score-wise, I want to get 9.9s on every event and beat my all-around score from last year.”
Gardner’s best score in the all-around last year was 39.275. She took second in the event during the team’s first meet of the year against Iowa State with a score of 38.775. 
She improved her score against Maryland to 38.950 but fell to third place. She was just 0.025 points behind the second-place competitor. 
Teammate senior Lindsay Mable took first in the all-around at both meets, but the Gophers will count on Gardner developing behind her before she likely takes an even bigger role with the team during the 2017 season.  
“Ciara is a great gymnast and person,” Mable said. “Her energy and talent combined really strengthen our team and our lineups. Some of her strengths include her passion for the sport and determination to get stuff done. When she has her mind set on something, she makes it happen.”