No. 1 Utah, injuries prove too much for U gymnasts to take

by Sam Campanaro

Even if its regular starting lineup would have been available, Minnesota’s women’s gymnastics team would have nothing more than realistic expectations facing No. 1 Utah.

But the Gophers were at a disadvantage with Annie Laatsch and Carrie Hortsch unable to compete due to injury.

Though Minnesota fell to Utah 196.40 to 194.75, six Gophers set personal bests in front of 2,123 fans at the Sports Pavilion.

“We like to go up against high-ranking teams because we feel we usually rise to the occasion,” Mary Skokut said.

Minnesota’s best performance came from Skokut, who took second place in the all-around competition with a score of 39.150 and was Minnesota’s meet MVP.

With the injuries to Laatsch and Hortsch happening last week in practice, quick and drastic adjustments were made to compensate for the injuries.

Laatsch, the Gophers top all-around competitor, dislocated her knee and expects that it will heal within the next two or three weeks and she will be back to competing.

“It’s no fun to just watch the meets,” said the injured Laatsch.

Hortsch, an Apple Valley native, was celebrating her hometown day at the Pavilion with a special recognition prior to the meet. There were also two performances by young gymnasts from local gyms.

Freshman Maria Opsahl competed for the first time on beam and floor exercise and freshman Laura Johnson stepped up to compete on the floor exercise.

Opsahl earned personal records on the beam at 9.100 and on the floor with 9.825. Johnson also notched a personal record on the floor at 9.675.

Both expressed their interest in filling in where they could to their coaches. And their coaches appreciate the effort.

“As a coach it’s really great to see athletes step up like that,” said co-head coach Meg Stephenson.

The bars and balance beam were the areas that Minnesota struggled, allowing Utah to win three out of four events. Minnesota only won the floor exercise.

Even without the injuries the Gophers weren’t out to beat Utah, just to perform their best.

Utah has made 21 NCAA meet appearances and has won nine NCAA titles, more than any other team.

Utah’s team is stacked with seven members that have competed on national teams throughout the world and one former Canadian Olympic team member.

Utah’s Annbeth Eberle captured the all-around title with a score of 39.625. Senior All-American, Theresa Kulikowski of Utah scored a perfect 10 on the bars, a Sports Pavilion first.

Sam Campanaro welcomes comments at [email protected]