Gophers lose in Carabajal’s return

Mark Heise

The Minnesota women’s gymnastics team proved against No. 21 Iowa on Saturday that it is just one event shy of returning to true form, putting together a pair of season-best scores in the 194.625-193.95 loss to the Hawkeyes.

“I know we aren’t anywhere near our potential right now, but I’m happy with where things are going,” junior Andy Cornelius said. “The score wasn’t great, but it was definitely improvement, and that’s what we’re working for right now.”

The Gophers started things off on a bright note, taking advantage of sophomore Carmelina Carabajal’s return to the vault by posting a season-high 48.7 in the event.

Carabajal recorded a 9.8 in her first vault since the first meet of the season, and Alexis Russell collected a career high, sticking a higher-difficulty vault than what she had been doing previously to grab a score of 9.825.

Carabajal said she was pleased with the results of vault and was happy to be back contributing.

“It felt so good,” she said. “We were hoping for the best, and I was really happy with how things went. I think the whole team stepped up tonight.”

The six remaining healthy gymnasts on the uneven bars put together a solid score of 48.475, thanks to Cornelius’ solid 9.775.

Minnesota’s troubles came on the balance beam, as two of the six gymnasts fell, sending the Gophers to a season-low score of 47.65.

“The interesting part is all three of those things we’ve identified as weaknesses with those athletes,” coach Jim Stephenson said. “We don’t have choices right now so we just have to work hard to take care of those spots.”

Juniors Amanda Miles and Ashley Stanton put together quality routines to each score 9.75, but the Gophers as a whole suffered on the beam, dropping over a point to Iowa.

Minnesota appeared to have something to prove on the floor exercise after its poor showing on the beam.

Going into the meet, the season-high for a Minnesota individual on the floor was 9.825. The Gophers’ low score on Saturday was 9.775.

Russell started the team off with a career-high 9.825, and the Gophers built off that.

Miles and Cornelius posted scores of 9.85 apiece, sending the team to a season-best score of 49.125, ending the meet on a high note.

Despite the loss, Minnesota continued its steady improvement since the disaster at the Best of Minnesota event, as the Gophers improved their score once again.

“We were pleased tonight, we needed to see a turnaround, and we did that tonight,” Stephenson said. “We aren’t perfect yet, but this was definitely a step in the right direction.”

A new season high

The men’s gymnastics team added to its strong performance last week, putting together a season-high score at the Pacific Coast Classic.

The Gophers eclipsed last week’s score by two full points with a 211.95, thanks in part to their best performance on pommel horse this season, recording a 33.95.

Sophomore Kit Beikmann and freshman Thomas O’Brien led the way on pommel horse, each contributing scores of 8.65.

“This was an incredible competition and our guys were challenged by five of the top teams in the country,” coach Mike Burns said in a statement.

“We stayed with (the competition) pretty well and while we still have room to improve, I think we are on the right track and have the ability to compete with the top teams in the nation.”