Feb. 24, 2012
The University of Minnesota women’s gymnastics team pieced together another great performance as they tallied a season-best score for the third straight week with a 196.250. The impressive team score was good enough to defeat Big Ten rival Iowa on the road at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday night.
Sophomore Dusti Russell nearly stole the spotlight as she grabbed first place on vault and in the all around while also sharing the top score on floor and balance beam. Junior Janell Campbell matched Russell on the floor exercise with a 9.875 while freshman Kylie Schermann equaled the Oshkosh, Wis. native’s score on beam with a 9.875.
“We always talk about working on the little things like our handstands and dismounts, and I feel that we really did those little things right tonight,” said head coach Meg Stephenson. “We came into the meet focused and prepared, so our confidence took over and we were able to take that next step.”
Minnesota began the night on the uneven bars, which is an event that the Golden Gophers have been dramatically improving on throughout the season. Friday night would be no different as they tallied a season-high score of 49.025.
Campbell was the Maroon and Gold’s top high-flyer with a personal-best score of 9.875, which was good enough for second place. Russell followed in a tie for fourth place with a 9.825, respectively.
The Gophers would head to vault in the second rotation and tie a season-high mark with a 49.050, making their score after the first two rotations a 98.075.
Four Minnesota gymnasts would score above a 9.800 with Russell leading the surge with a career-high score of 9.875. Junior Shannon Golich was the next highest Gopher with a 9.825 while sophomore Kayla Slechta and freshman Jenny Covers each tallied a 9.800.
Despite setting a high score after two rotations, Iowa carried a slim lead into the third rotation with a 98.275. The Hawkeyes, who rank No. 18 nationally on the bars, stretched their lead by grabbing five of the top seven scores on the apparatus. Emma Stevenson headed the charge for the Black and Gold as she scored a 9.900, which was the only 9.900 or above on the night.
It was in the third rotation that the Gophers grabbed a commanding lead after a strong floor set and a pair of miscues on the balance beam for Iowa.
The Maroon and Gold would grab six of the top eight places with Russell and Campbell at the top of the list in a tie for first with a 9.875. Other notable performances came from Golich and Schermann who finished in a tie for fourth with a 9.825, respectively.
“We really put together another great floor set this week,” added Stephenson. “Everyone hit their routines and put on great performances from the beginning to the end. It was great to have Janell back into the lineup, and she did an outstanding job.”
The Gophers finished the floor exercise with a 49.175 while Iowa recorded a 47.600 on the balance beam during the third rotation.
Minnesota would end the meet on a high note as they scored another season-high as a team on the balance beam. Russell and Schermann notched the highest scorers of the night on the apparatus with a 9.875, which was a personal best for the freshman. Golich would snag fourth place with a 9.850 en route to the Gophers scoring a 49.000.
Stephenson targeted senior Amber Hammerschmidt’s performance as one of the top beam routines, despite a miscue in the event.
“The girls ended the meet strong with a great score on beam,” mentioned Stephenson. “Amber’s routine stands out to me because she had a little error, but she really fought back and was able to get us a pretty valuable score.”
On top of earning three individual event crowns, Russell would also achieve the highest all around score on the night of 39.450, which was also a career-best. Freshman Cierra Tomson quietly scored a 39.025, respectively, to grab second in the four-event competition.
“Dusti came out and put on a great performance at each event tonight, and she was just amazing to watch,” Stephenson said. “When she came here, she had the mindset that she wasn’t a vaulter, but after a year and a half, her perception has changed. Now she is confident in her abilities as a vaulter, and I feel that is part of the reason she has come on so strong, especially with sticking her landing tonight.”
Minnesota now turns around and heads to Ames, Iowa for their second contest of the weekend. The Gophers hope to replicate their performance against Iowa Sunday afternoon as they face off with Iowa State in the Hilton Coliseum.
“It was important for us to get a good road score like we did tonight,” said Stephenson. “We came into the meet with a lot of energy and focus, and I hope we can repeat it on Sunday at Iowa State.”