Gymnastics recovers from two-meet streak

A week after a tough loss in Utah, a trip out west went well for the women’s gymnastic team.
The Gophers suffered their worst loss in recent memory to the third-ranked Utes on Jan. 21. But No. 15 Minnesota (3-2) rebounded with wins over No. 12 Denver and Arizona Sunday in a triangular meet in Denver.
The Gophers finished just in front of Denver (194.525 to 194.375), and well ahead of third-place Arizona (192.90).
The meet proved a relief for the entire squad, which broke down during several routines in Utah. It also snapped a string of two consecutive losses for the Gophers.
“We had some redeeming to do,” co-coach Meg Stephenson said. “After the Utah meet we sat down and discussed how we were going to react. We were just thrilled with our performance [Sunday].”
Minnesota was well on its way to recovery when all six gymnasts did well on the uneven bars, an event that plagued the Gophers during the Utah meet.
“The uneven bars was our nemesis in Utah,” Stephenson said. “For us to come back with six of six routines was big.”
Four of the six Gophers fell in the uneven bars in Utah.
Minnesota’s Megan Beuckens finished third in the all-around (39.025) and tied for second in the floor exercise (9.825) with teammates Catie Christensen and MaryAnne Kelley.
Kelley says the floor exercise is an opportunity for the gymnasts to show off their personalities for the judges.
“We have a definite advantage over teams who just stand there without a smile on their face,” she said.
Another key to the Gophers’ win was the second-place finish in the vault by freshman Leigh Dixon (9.775). Beuckens was impressed with the freshman’s performance.
“Leigh is an awesome vaulter, one of the highest scoring competitors on the team,” Beuckens said.
Dixon qualified for the junior Olympic National Championships in the event as a high school senior.
Minnesota’s narrow win came in spite of Denver claiming the top individual spot in each event. The Gophers had to rely on their depth, averaging three of the top five finishers in the four events.
But depth is something they may not need next week. The Gophers are in the middle of a long road swing, which will wrap up this weekend when they travel to Iowa State on Friday and Iowa on Sunday.