Women’s gymnasts suffer two close meet losses

by The Minnesota Daily

The 12th-ranked University of Minnesota women’s gymnastics team was defeated by No. 7 Michigan by a score of 191.850-194.700 Friday night in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Gophers won two events, the beam and the floor, in their first road competition of the season. Minnesota is now 0-2 in 2003, with the two loses coming by a total of 3.05 points.

Minnesota competed well on the beam, with four of the top six scores. Senior Kelly Watson placed second with a score of 9.800, followed by teammate Mary Skokut with a 9.775. Freshman Laura Johnson and junior Alicia Opsahl each scored a 9.575 to tie for sixth.

On floor, the Gophers had four gymnasts score a 9.775 or above, with senior captain Jenny Alf leading the team with a 9.875 to tie for second. Junior Annie Laatsch finished .025 behind Alf to tie for fourth.

Minnesota struggled on bars, with Opsahl tying for second at 9.825. The next highest Gopher was Leigh Dixon with a 9.625 for seventh place. The Gophers also had trouble on the vault with the best performance coming from Carolyn Yernberg who scored a 9.775 to tie for fourth.

On Jan. 11, Tenth-ranked Arizona topped Minnesota, 195.725-195.525 at the Sports Pavilion to open the 2003 season. Minnesota led Arizona after the first two rotations, but the Wildcats stepped in to take the lead after the Gophers counted one fall on beam and scored 48.675.

The Gophers got off to a strong start by scoring a 49.025 on the vault led Yernberg who won the apparatus with a score of 9.925. Johnson and Laatsch also turned in good routines with scores of 9.825 and 9.850 respectively.

On the bars, Minnesota was led by Opsahl who tied a career-best with a score of 9.825 placing third. Arizona’s Jamie Duce won the apparatus with a score of 9.850.

Laatsch continued her strong effort as she tied for first-place on the balance beam, tying a career-best effort with a score of 9.9. Arizona’s Monica Bisordi scored a 9.9 as well and led the Wildcats in taking four out of the top-five spots on the beam.

Minnesota closed the meet strong on the floor exercise as it grabbed three out of the top-four places. Laatsch once again earned the top score for the Gophers as she won the apparatus and turned in the second-best score in school history with a score of 9.95. That effort tied her career-best set last year against Arizona. She was followed by Yernberg, who tied a career-best with a score of 9.9, and Opsahl who scored a 9.875, tying her career-best as well.

In the all-around competition, Arizona’s Bisordi came out on top as she edged Laatsch with a total score of 39.425 to Laatsch’s 39.10.

The Minnesota women gymnasts will next travel to Gainesville, Fla. to compete against Kentucky and Florida on Friday, Jan. 24.

Men’s gymnastics

minnesota opened their 100th season of men’s gymnastics in Chicago, Ill., at the 33rd annual Windy City Invitational, placing fifth out of six teams.

Second-ranked Ohio State won the invitational with a score of 213.000, while No. 7 Iowa was second (208.750), followed by No. 6 Michigan (207.150), No. 3 Illinois (207.050), No. 8 Minnesota (202.900) and 13th-ranked Illinois-Chicago with a score of 199.450.

Sophomore sensation Guillermo Alvarez opened his season on a high note by claiming titles in the floor and vault with scores of 9.45 and finishing second in the all-around with a score of 52.2. Senior Clay Strother also had a solid performance by winning the pommel horse for the Gophers with a score of 9.4.

The Gophers next meet will be their home opener on Jan. 25, at the Sports Pavilion against Illinois at 1 p.m.