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Women finish third at Big Ten meet

The men missed opportunities in a loss to No. 1 Penn State at home.
Minnesota gymnast Steve Jaciuk competes on still rings Saturday, March 23, 2013, at the Sports Pavilion.
Image by Bridget Bennett
Minnesota gymnast Steve Jaciuk competes on still rings Saturday, March 23, 2013, at the Sports Pavilion.

The Gophers women’s gymnastics team finished third at the Big Ten championships Saturday night in East Lansing, Mich.

A week after Minnesota and Michigan shared the first-ever Big Ten regular season title, Nebraska took home the postseason title. Michigan also finished ahead of Minnesota. Illinois and Ohio State rounded out the top five.

Gophers head coach Meg Stephenson said her team hit all 24 routines but that the two teams atop the standings hit them slightly better.

Minnesota put together a solid score despite a few minor mistakes.

The Gophers had high scores from gymnasts on each event, but the other teams matched the performances.

Nebraska’s Emily Wong won the floor exercise and parallel bars competitions outright, but the vault and beam competitions each had five-way ties for first place.

Gophers freshman Lindsay Mable was part of the tie for first on beam with a score of 9.9. Senior Janelle Campbell tied for second on bars with the same score.

Mable finished fourth in the all-around competition with a season-high score of 39.55.

“I felt good about the gymnastics I put out,” she said. “I felt like I did my part enough and was fortunate enough to have the judges agree.”

Mable, the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year, said she treated the competition like any other.

Stephenson said Mable’s beam routine to begin the night was arguably her best of the season.

“She just did a nice job everywhere,” Stephenson said. “It was just letting herself focus on what we’ve practiced and stay in her bubble.”

Campbell tied her season-high score on bars and said she felt “totally serene” during the routine.

“When that 9.9 came up I knew it was well deserved,” she said. “I know I’m a 9.9 worker.”

Stephenson said Jenison Field House was loud Saturday night, but Minnesota was able to handle the pressure and noise of the meet.

Minnesota started the night on beam, which hasn’t happened often this season, but the team handled the rotation cycle well and produced one of its highest beam scores in recent weeks.

Minnesota was forced to finish on bars, the team’s worst event this season.

Stephenson said the team was confident and prepared to start with any event.

Minnesota will compete in the NCAA regionals in two weeks.

Minnesota has next weekend off, so it’ll hold a mock meet in practice next Saturday to help the gymnasts stay competition-ready.

Men miss routines, opportunity

The Gophers men’s gymnastics team fell to No. 1 Penn State on Saturday afternoon at the Sports Pavilion.

The Nittany Lions outscored the Gophers on five of the six events to win by nearly six points.

Minnesota gave away most of those points on falls and the inability to land dismounts, coach Mike Burns said.

“We kind of kicked ourselves in the butt today,” he said.

Burns said the team recorded five misses, equivalent to about five points. He said the team has to clean up its landings on floor exercise and still rings.

Minnesota had its best performance of the season on pommel horse. Sophomore Ellis Mannon won pommel horse to lead Minnesota. This event has been a weakness for the team most of the season, but the Gophers have scored well on it in recent weeks.

Penn State scored significantly higher on vault and parallel bars and was able to stretch its lead in the second half of the meet.

Minnesota finished strong on high bar and outscored Penn State by nearly three points, but the damage was already done.

Steve Jaciuk, ranked third in the nation on high bar behind Penn State’s Wasef Burbar and Matt Felleman, scored a 14.9 to win the event.

Jaciuk said he’s had trouble with a release in the middle of his routine and took extra measures to grab the bar Saturday.

Adrenaline affected the team throughout the night, especially on vault, junior Adam Kern said.

“They’re just getting so amped up,” Kern said of some of the gymnasts. “Their minds are just thinking so fast that they’re forgetting their technique just a little bit. Everything is just too fast.”

Burns said adrenaline can be a good thing on vault, as opposed to pommel horse, which benefits from more concentration.

The Gophers have two weeks to improve before hosting the Big Ten championships April 4-5.


—The Gophers men’s team celebrated senior Adam LaFleur’s final regular season competition at the Sports Pavilion on Saturday with a ceremony after the meet.

LaFleur finished seventh on the vault, the event in which he is nationally ranked.

—Junior Zack Chase may return to the lineup for the Big Ten championships on the still rings. Chase suffered a broken tibia in a meet against Illinois in February.

—Mable won Big Ten Freshman of the Year on Saturday. She is the first Minnesota gymnast to win the award since Gena Palm in 1989.

“It’s very close to my heart,” Mable said of winning the award.

—Stephenson won Big Ten Coach of the Year on Saturday — the third time she’s received the honor.

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