Yet another season high, yet another win

Andrew Baker

The No. 18 Gophers womenâÄôs gymnastics team continued to improve Saturday in a 195.575-191.5 home victory over Air Force, winning every event and posting season-high scores on every apparatus except the balance beam.

For the second week in row, senior Kendra Elm won the all-around competition, scoring a 9.8 or higher in each of the four events, including a season-high 9.8 on the uneven parallel bars.

âÄúI just go out there to hit my routines and whatever happens, happens after that,âÄù Elm said. âÄúIâÄôve been fortunate and ended up winning the last two weekends, but thatâÄôs never what I focus on. I just focus on hitting one event, one routine at a time.âÄù

Minnesota came charging out of the gate in its first event âÄî the vault âÄî recording three scores of 9.8 or higher, including career highs of 9.675 and 9.85 for Janell Campbell and Lucy Ennis.

âÄú[The vault is] an event that we havenâÄôt been strong on in the past,âÄù Gophers head coach Meg Stephenson said, âÄúso itâÄôs just been a matter of the coaching âĦ ItâÄôs really been a great effort and the teamâÄôs been wonderful about making corrections and being aggressive.âÄù

Senior captain Kristin Furukawa won the uneven parallel bars with a score of 9.875.

Freshman Kayla Slechta continued to stand out, recording a career-high 9.8 on the uneven parallel bars, 9.85 on the vault and 9.85 in the floor exercise.

Slechta said her career-best bars routine felt like exactly that.

âÄúI actually did my dismount [from the bars], landed and I was like, âÄòWow, that was the best routine IâÄôve done so far,âÄô âÄù Slechta said.

Along with fellow freshman Dusti Russell, who is currently out with an elbow injury, Slechta has been one of the teamâÄôs top performers this season.

Slechta said her experience so far with the team has been âÄúamazing,âÄù citing a family atmosphere and support system that she said club gymnastics lacked.

Official attendance at the Sports Pavilion was 1,361. Gophers coach Meg Stephenson said the energy from the crowd was a factor in her teamâÄôs dominating performance.

âÄúIt was a great crowd tonight,âÄù Stephenson said, later adding, âÄúThe Minnesota crowd is very educated with gymnastics, so they know whatâÄôs good and they know what theyâÄôre looking at.âÄù

After the final rotation Saturday, they were looking at a team that had posted its highest score of the year and won its third-straight meet.

âÄúWe were really proud of ourselves tonight,âÄù Elm said. âÄúWeâÄôre well on our way and if we keep up at this rate we should have no problem making our goals.âÄù