Women’s gymnasts add vault to master list in weekend win

Susan Filkins

The Gophers women’s gymnastics team continues to get better with every performance this season. That trend continued Saturday as Minnesota defeated Iowa State 193.7 to 191.9 at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, recording its highest team score this season.
It was a homecoming for Gophers coach Jim Stephenson, who was a member of Iowa State’s NCAA championship teams in 1971 and 1973. Stephenson said re-living those memories added to the Gophers victory in an arena where they have struggled in the past.
“For us to go down there and win against them in their own coliseum was especially fun because it usually doesn’t go that way,” Stephenson said.
The Gophers (5-2) have been working diligently to improve their vault scores, which has been a weakness in the past. Minnesota compiled its highest team score of the season in the event thanks to the help of a couple of underclassmen.
Freshman Judith Cavazos tied her personal best on the vault with a 9.675. Also, freshman Kristi Selinger recorded a personal-best 9.75.
“All of the coaches have commented together on how Kristi seems to be making a decision that this is something she wants to do well,” Stephenson said.
Minnesota’s top two scores usually come from the balance beam and floor exercise, but their team vault score was their highest score against the Cyclones.
“We started the season looking like we weren’t ready on that event,” Stephenson said. “But even in the warm-ups you could tell that their timing was good and they were at a high energy level. We are starting to feel on that event like we have in the past on the floor exercise.”
Although their team score on the vault was impressive, it was the only event in which they lost the individual first place finish to Iowa State. Cyclone’s junior Amy Wall won the event with a 9.825. Gophers junior Stacy Batza finished a close second with a 9.8.
Junior Mindy Knaeble won the balance beam, and tied with senior Kristen Vandersall for first place on the floor exercise. Vandersall also tied for the top finish on the uneven bars with Cavazos.
The Gophers came away from the meet with an increased self-confidence level. They will need to keep their confidence high this week to prepare to face No. 2 Utah next weekend.
“We feel we can look very respectable up against Utah,” Stephenson said. “To beat them is completely out of the question, but hopefully we will find ourselves in a high scoring environment that could help us.”