Gophers show improvement, not enough to secure a win

Mark Heise

An air of confidence seemed to surround the Minnesota women’s gymnastics team at its season opener Saturday.

The 21st-ranked Gophers put up a strong showing at home, collecting 194.4 points despite falling to No. 12 Iowa State, which had 194.525.

“We’ve been looking to see if they have made changes and improvements since the end of last season,” coach Jim Stephenson said. “We saw that tonight and I think that we took a big step towards where we want to be.”

Minnesota’s score was an improvement from the 189.425 it received at the preseason intrasquad meet last weekend.

The Gophers began the meet on the vault and took advantage of strong performances from sophomore all-arounder Carmelina Carabajal (9.825) and senior Kelly Ganchan (9.775) to finish with 48.6 points after one event.

Minnesota had some trouble with its dismounts on the uneven bars, costing the team on the scoreboard. But junior

Angela Walker came through for the Gophers, posting a score of 9.75 – .375 points higher than her intrasquad score – to help Minnesota salvage the event, scoring 48.05 on the bars.

That was the Gophers’ lowest score of the night, but Carabajal said it wasn’t something to worry about quite yet.

“It’s still early and we’re still working out the kinks,” she said. “I think we’ll be fine once we get further into the season.”

Minnesota rebounded well, putting together solid routines on the balance beam. Freshman all-arounder Jamie Bullock finished with a score of 9.75, while Walker contributed with a score of 9.8.

Junior Ashley Stanton had the highest mark, sticking her landing for a 9.85 as the Gophers put up 48.825 points heading into the final event.

“I think beam was one of our strong points tonight,” Walker said. “Everyone looked confident going into it and they nailed their routines. It was a big part of our success tonight.”

As good as the beam was for Minnesota, the floor exercise was even stronger.

The Gophers recorded three of the top four scores in the event, as juniors Amanda Miles and Andy Cornelius put together strong routines to score 9.775 each.

Carabajal was the highlight of the event, however, as she nailed a full twisting, double backflip on her first pass to score 9.9, a career-best for the sophomore.

Carabajal finished second overall in the meet, tallying 38.975 points over four events.

Minnesota’s season-opening score of 194.4 gives them a reason for optimism, as the Gophers only surpassed 194.2 three times throughout last year’s regular season.

“This is as talented a team as we’ve ever had,” Stephenson said. “And we believe in the integrity of their commitment to make every practice count. This team has the potential to make some strides, and I think we will with a little luck.”

Men finish fourth

Posting a team score of 205.65, the men’s gymnastics team finished fourth of six teams at the Windy City Classic in Chicago.

Senior Jacob Lee placed second in the all-around, finishing with 51.75 points, while freshman Cole Storer placed second on the vault, finishing with a score of 8.85.

The team finished second on the pommel horse with a score of 33.45, its best event of the meet.