Yernberg’s honor highlights third-place Big Ten finish

Senior Carolyn Yernberg was named tops in the conference after Big Tens.

by Emily Wickstrom

Minnesota women’s gymnastics senior Carolyn Yernberg has been a leader for the Gophers all year.

On Saturday, she was named a leader for the Big Ten.

Yernberg’s co-Big Ten gymnast of the year award highlighted a strong showing for Minnesota at the Big Ten Championships in Iowa City, Iowa. The Gophers won two event titles and had two gymnasts named first-team All-Big Ten en route to a third-place finish Saturday.

Michigan won its seventh- consecutive Big Ten title, scoring 196.250 and edging out Penn State, which finished with a score of 196.125.

The Gophers followed with a 195.375.

“We did fantastic,” Minnesota co-coach Meg Stephenson said. “Our goal was to hit 24 for 24 routines, and we did that, and in the process got in the top three and had two Big Ten champions.”

Yernberg finished off her Gophers career on top, tying for first on the floor exercise with a score of 9.850. She also placed fourth on vault, scoring 9.875.

After the competition, Yernberg shared her top honor with Elise Ray of Michigan. Yernberg and Laura Johnson were also selected to the All-Big Ten first team.

“(Big Ten gymnast of the year) was definitely a total surprise,” Yernberg said. “I never would have expected it.”

But perhaps the most surprising event of the night for Minnesota was the vault, where freshman Ashley Mutchler tied for first with two other gymnasts, scoring 9.900.

It was the first time Minnesota had had two Big Ten champions in the 13 seasons Jim and Meg Stephenson have been coaches.

“(Mutchler) just nailed her vault. She had great form and stuck the landing,” Meg Stephenson said. “The team was just beside itself with excitement.”

Johnson also had a good meet for the Gophers, scoring 39.125 in the all-around to finish fifth. She placed in the top 10 in every event except the balance beam.

As a team, Minnesota performed best on the vault, where it scored a season-high 49.125.

Meg Stephenson said Minnesota’s score increased its chance for a berth in the North Central Regional Championships on April 9.

“We just really marched through our routines,” she said. “It was the kind of thing where we got on the floor and we were really on top of our game.”

Men sixth at Big Tens

Minnesota’s men’s gymnastics team placed sixth at the Big Ten Championships on Friday and Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Gophers earned their second-highest score of the season with a 216.400.

Ohio State won the meet with a score of 225.350, and

Illinois scored 224.125 to place second.

Guillermo Alvarez, who was named first-team All-Big Ten, took third in the all-around, scoring 55.475.

Alvarez was the only Gophers gymnast who qualified for the event finals, in which he won the vault title with a score of 9.512. He also placed third on the pommel horse with a 9.637.

Minnesota coach Mike Burns said, “I would have liked to hit a little bit more of our routines. But when you sit back and look at the final results, we had our second-best score of the year and improved our national rankings.”