Minnesota no match for No. 3 Utah

Mark Heise

With so many injuries plaguing the Minnesota women’s gymnastics team, its impressive weekend performance might come as a surprise to many.

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when: 8:30 p.m. Friday where: Tucson, Ariz.

The Gophers overcame several injuries to string together a strong meet at home Saturday, scoring well despite losing to No. 3 Utah 195.875-194.125.

Minnesota was at a clear disadvantage at the start of the meet, as freshman all-arounder Jamie Bullock was removed from the lineup altogether and sophomore Carmelina Carabajal, one of the top vaulters on the team, was limited to just three events.

The Gophers were able to shrug off those shortcomings, however, and put together a strong showing on the vault, putting up 48.4 points.

Senior Kelly Ganchan nailed her routine, landing a double-front flip from the pike position, and led the Gophers with a 9.75 on the event.

Junior Ashley Stanton set a personal record with a score of 9.7, but it wasn’t enough as Utah junior Ashley Postell won the event with 9.9.

Despite a noticeable limp during introductions, Minnesota senior Stephanie Funk came through with a solid routine on the uneven bars. Funk stuck a double-layout on the dismount for a score of 9.8, leading the Gophers to a 48.8 finish in the event.

“We took a step back this week and realized what we needed to do,” Funk said. “If we bring the same focus to the meet that we have every day at practice, we knew we could improve.”

Carabajal and freshman Alexis Russell both posted personal-best scores on the bars, posting a 9.625 and a 9.725, respectively. Utah’s Postell won her second straight event, finishing with a 9.825. After two events, Minnesota trailed 98.05-97.2.

Russell picked up another personal best on the balance beam with a score of 9.675, but it was Stanton who led the Gophers with a score of 9.85, nailing a kick-over front flip, landing in a sitting position.

Postell won yet another event for Utah with a score of 9.925, but Stanton anchored Minnesota helping cover any weakness due to injuries.

“It’s horrible that we lost part of our team, but there are 13 of us on the team,” she said. “We’re all capable of doing well, so we really just need to focus on stepping up when we have to.”

Carabajal continued her steady performance with the floor routine, posting a team-best 9.825 in the final event.

Junior Andy Cornelius stepped up for the Gophers on the floor, posting a personal-best score of 9.8, sticking all three of her passes including a pike double-backflip and tuck double-backflip to earn the award as most vital performer for Minnesota.

Coach Jim Stephenson expressed his pleasure with the results of the meet after a tough meet on the road the week before.

“The team was upset with themselves after the Penn State meet and they came into practice this week very determined,” he said. “We saw that same focus tonight, and if that’s the lesson we can take from Penn State, then we’ll be happy.”

Men win in St. Paul

The sixth-ranked men’s gymnastics team cruised past No. 15 William & Mary on Saturday night at the St. Paul River Centre, 203.15-189.65.

Junior Mitchell Mays finished with a high score in two events, winning on the still rings with a score of 9.2 and taking the vault with a 9.05.

Freshman Andre Berry won the all-around title for the first time in his career, finishing with 48.9 points.