Gymnast squads fall to Michigan in meets last weekend

Ben Goessling

The Gophers’ women’s gymnastics team suffered its first defeat of the season, losing by a score of 195.125 to 195.025 to No. 9 Michigan on Saturday.

But after the meet, co-coach Jim Stephenson was more pleased with the fight his team gave the perennial powerhouse Wolverines than he was disappointed with the loss.

“We would have liked to have won, because it would have said a lot, but I think it also says a lot that it was this tight,” Stephenson said.

Minnesota led Michigan 97.650-97.375 after two rotations, but two falls on the balance beam doomed the Gophers’ chances to win. Reigning Big Ten Gymnast of the Week MaryAnne Kelley fell and scored only a 9.175 on the beam, allowing Michigan to get back into the meet.

Kelley’s struggles continued on the floor exercise, where she was able to manage only a 9.325. Meanwhile, 2000 U.S. Olympian Elise Ray posted a 9.9 on the balance beam, sealing the win for the Wolverines.

The Gophers mounted their lead after two rotations thanks to two impressive routines on the uneven bars by Annie Laatsch and Mary Skokut, who both posted scores of 9.875. Those performances allowed Minnesota to beat the Wolverines in their best event and take a lead into the third rotation.

“Getting those performances back-to-back, I really felt we were on a good roll right then, and going to beam next, I thought we had a great chance to beat them,” Stephenson said.

The Gophers (2-1, 1-1 Big Ten) were coming off their best performance of the season last week against Stanford and had risen to the fifth spot in the national rankings. Coupled with the strong effort Minnesota gave against the Wolverines (3-2, 1-0), co-coach Meg Stephenson echoed her husband’s sentiments about the meet.

“I still see so much potential, and the team does too,” she said. “They know they have the potential to do better, so I think we’re where we need to be.”

Men’s gymnastics lose

Minnesota’s men’s gymnasts were defeated at No. 4 Michigan 212.350 ñ 204.750 last Saturday.

The Gophers outscored the Wolverines in the pommel horse, but Michigan took all other events.

Minnesota’s next meet is Jan. 26 at Illinois.

Ben Goessling welcomes comments at [email protected]