Women’s gymnasts win despite beam struggles

by Jim Schortemeyer

The Minnesota women’s gymnastics team came back to the Sports Pavilion for the first time in nearly a month and met with mixed results.
While the Gophers easily steamed past the competition at the Best of Minnesota meet Saturday, there were problems.
Minnesota finished with 193.525 points, almost 14 better than second-place Hamline. But while the meet was a nice way to return home, a season-long problem with the balance beam hurt the Gophers. Minnesota scored 48.525 on the beam, 1.1 points less than it did on any other event.
“It has been this way for the entire season,” Gophers co-coach Jim Stephenson said. “Much more this year than other years.
“There’s virtually no margin for error on that event, and we can’t get the team focused on it.”
The beam wasn’t the only problem for the Gophers. Stephenson said team wanted to finish with a score of 195 or better, but had to settle for its 193. A weak round on the beam (which included two falls and a near-fall) hurt the team score.
And it’s those little slip-ups on the beam which have hurt the Gophers.
“We’ve got people doing a great job, but the total team score is dependant on the whole team,” Stephenson said. “If there’s any weak link, it will show brilliantly in the score.”
Minnesota’s scores have suffered due to some inconsistency. The Gophers were ranked fourth before the season began, but now sit out of the top 10.
And Stephenson is all too aware his team hasn’t produced the kind of scores it can.
“We’re much more capable than our showing and ranking indicate,” Stephenson said. “It’s the sort of thing you saw (Saturday), where the bars and balance beam trip us up.”
While Minnesota looked rusty over the weekend, it won’t have much time to recover. The Gophers return to the road with a meet in Arizona this weekend.
With some of the best teams in the nation at the meet, it’s familiar territory for the Gophers. Minnesota made the trek to third-ranked Utah two weeks ago, only to be shaken by a crowd of 7,800 and intense media coverage.
That was a situation that Stephenson says his team has learned from and is ready to capitalize on.
“We learned to disassociate ourselves at that meet, and focus on our events,” Stephenson said.

Jim Schortemeyer is the sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]