Carabajal earns second all-around title for Minnesota

âÄúShe leads with ease and is easy to follow.âÄù This is what co-head coach Meg Stephenson had to say about Gophers gymnastics standout Carmelina Carabajal. And itâÄôs easy to see why. The senior captain stole the show yet again with her second all-around title of the season, finishing with a score of 39.150. In Saturday nightâÄôs meet at Denver, Carabajal tied junior teammate Alexis Russell for third on the vault, took second on the floor and tied for third on the beam. This is nothing new for Carabajal. The senior won the all-around title last weekend at Arizona and competed strong at the NCAA Nationals last year. âÄúI think [nationals] was a big shot in the arm for her, and it was also a big shot in the arm for the team, because they saw that hard work will pay off,âÄù Stephenson said. The beam seemed to be the only weakness for Minnesota as they counted two falls on the night. âÄúHad we had a better performance on beam, I think we could have definitely challenged them,âÄù Stephenson said. What may have been more important to the Gophers than the narrow 193.525-194.70 loss to Denver were the many individual improvements made. Four gymnasts achieved personal best scores Saturday. âÄúI think we just need a couple meets under our belt and everyone to get healthy. And once that happens, weâÄôre going to be on top,âÄù Carabajal said. Meanwhile, the menâÄôs gymnastics team is already moving up after their season opener Saturday night in Chicago. The Gophers finished with a respectable 341.400 score to land a third-place finish at the Windy City Invite. The biggest story of the night was edging out 3rd ranked Ohio State and coming close to Illinois, which finished second with a score of 342.250. This gave Minnesota gymnasts an opportunity to stand at the awards ceremony âÄî something they havenâÄôt done for years at the Windy City Invite. âÄúIt was a great feeling to push Ohio State out. That was definitely a good feeling, but this is one of the best finishes weâÄôve had in a long time,âÄù senior Edward Campbell said. The Gophers had many highlights for the night, including hitting the highest percentage of routines for a season-opener in years: just under 80 percent on the night. Juniors Aaron Fortunato and Adam Reichow excelled, while highly touted freshman DJ Repp finished 6th all around. But the Gophers had some falls on the night, as well. Senior co-captain Kit Beikmann had a few on the pommel horse, leaving him with a wrist injury. Through it all, Minnesota gymnasts stuck together and quickly solidified their stance as a national contender in their season opener. âÄúThey did a really good job of handling the adverse moments and not letting it take them down even lower,âÄù head coach Mike Burns said. âÄúIt was really good to see how it all starts to gel together as a team effort out there.âÄù