Women’s gymnasts toppled by Michigan at NCAA meet, finish 4th

by David La

Not so coincidentally, the finishing order of the women’s gymnastics teams at the Big Ten championships this weekend mirrored their order of finish in the national rankings.
That was good news for No. 5 Michigan, which left East Lansing, Mich. with a 196.3 score and its seventh title in eight years, but bad news for No. 16 Minnesota, which finished fourth with 194.150 points and failed to defend its title.
“It doesn’t take much to knock you out of the top at this level,” co-coach Meg Stephenson said.
The principal nemesis for the Gophers was the balance beam. While each team at the meet recorded falls, senior Cathy Keyser’s misstep was particularly difficult for Minnesota to overcome. The defending Big Ten champion on the beam tripped on the dismount and dropped to a disappointing 26th place finish.
While the Gophers’ lone competing senior struggled, freshman Megan Beuckens picked up the slack by finishing in a tie for fifth on the beam. Beuckens also tied for second on the floor exercise, and the two solid placings earned her All-Big Ten honors.
“It was pretty impressive for a freshman to do that in a tough conference like the Big Ten,” Stephenson said.
“It’s a big thing for me, it was exciting,” Beuckens said, adding, “It was a disappointment (not winning Big Tens), but it’s a definite learning experience.”
All-Big Ten honors also went to freshman Catie Christensen, who tied for fifth place on the uneven bars.
“I felt the level of competition was excellent,” Christensen said. “We’ve been aiming for regionals and this was really good experience.”
The Gophers are now looking ahead to the NCAA regional championships on Apr. 10. Minnesota’s season ended at the regionals last year, and they hope to hit their stride this year, with or without the Big Ten title.
“We didn’t peak at Big Tens, that’s for sure,” Stephenson said. “But for the most part, the performances were excellent. We are young, but we performed like a seasoned team..”

Women’s Big Ten
Gymnastics Championships
Team Order of Finish

1. Michigan 196.3
2. Penn State 195.55
3. Ohio State 194.625
4. Minnesota 194.15
5. Illinois 193.8
6. Michigan State 191.6
7. Iowa 136.825