Women’s team drops first meet of year

Minnesota’s men’s team won its first meet of the season over the weekend.

Minnesota gymnast Kylie Schermann does her beam routine Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, at The Sports Pavilion.

Jaak Jensen

Minnesota gymnast Kylie Schermann does her beam routine Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, at The Sports Pavilion.

by David Nelson

After the Gophers started their season undefeated in competition, the grind of road meets finally caught up with them.

In a tough competition against No. 8 Nebraska, Minnesota fell by a final score of 196.975-195.900.

“I don’t think it was our best performance,” head coach Meg Stephenson said. “But it was a good performance.”

The Gophers topped their season-average team point total but faltered in some areas, including scoring a season low in floor exercise.

Minnesota did score a season high on the balance beam, an area in which Stephenson wanted to improve.

“I was really proud of them,” she said. “For us to have a less-than-perfect meet and still score a 195.9, that’s huge. That says a lot about the talent that we have.”

For the second meet in a row, junior Kylie Schermann turned in a solid performance on floor, balance beam and vault to pace her team.

It was alumni weekend in Lincoln, Neb., and Schermann had a unique opportunity to perform in front of her mother — a former gymnast with the Cornhuskers — and her mother’s former teammates. Schermann didn’t disappoint.

“She’s just that steady kid that just finds a way and is able to get in there week after week and be focused,” Stephenson said. “She does three events, and she’s a huge player for us on those three events.”

Sophomores Hanna Nordquist and Madie Hanley also performed well in their individual events. Stephenson said Hanley’s uneven bars routine was the best of Hanley’s career.

Nordquist, meanwhile, tied for first in the meet with a 9.875 on the balance beam.

While the Gophers had great individual performances, Stephenson said that with a short week, they need to stay focused to correct some of the miscues.

“I think we’ll be very focused on just trying to fine-tune those little things,” she said.

Men’s team holds off Illinois

After a solid performance against Oklahoma last weekend, the Gophers men’s team looked strong again against Illinois and Nebraska.

Minnesota beat both teams — its first win of the season — by scoring 435.2 points. Illinois was close behind with 432.7, and the Cornhuskers were a distant third with 420.7.

“When you beat a team as good as Illinois and a team as good as Nebraska at home, it’s a real satisfying feeling,” head coach Mike Burns said. “We talked about this all week — the opportunity to have a signature win against a very solid program.”

Senior Zach Chase led the way for the Gophers, starting off his night with a 15.1 on floor exercise.

Chase, who also competed on the still rings and the vault, never received a score lower than a 15.1.

“It’s nice to go out there and do what we know we’re capable of doing,” Chase said.

Senior transfer Sam Wright — who hadn’t competed yet for the Gophers this season — helped Minnesota seal the win with his 14.6 performance on the high bar.

“What a guy,” Burns said. “He has to sit around the whole meet … and finally gets up there after two hours … and goes up and nails a set. It was awesome.”

Burns said Saturday’s win was good step toward establishing Minnesota’s reputation. He also alluded to the fact that his team has a long way to go.

“You’ve got to start making statements about what kind of team you are,” he said. “If you make the statements early enough, then the word gets out that Minnesota is a team to be reckoned with.”

The Gophers will be back in action again next weekend against Air Force with hopes of continuing to build on this momentum.