March 2, 2012
The University of Minnesota women's gymnastics team put together a solid performance in Fayetteville, Ark. to score a 195.475, but the No. 18-ranked Gophers would be outscored by nationally ranked Arkansas, who posted a 196.325.
"I am really proud of the team on how they performed tonight," said head coach Meg Stephenson. "We came out and competed against one of the top teams in the nation and ended up winning two events as a team."
In the first rotation, the Maroon and Gold struggled to have a consistent bars set, but showcased a trio of good routines to earn a score of 48.675. Senior Lucy Ennis posted a team-high score of 9.825 while sophomore Dusti Russell and junior Janell Campbell, respectively, scored a 9.800.
The Gophers followed bars with their top vault score of the season, 49.125, which outscored Arkansas' vault set. Freshman Jenny Covers headed the grouping by claiming second place with a career-best score of 9.875. Sophomore Kayla Slechta tallied the next highest score for Minnesota at 9.850, which was good enough to tie for third.
Heading into the third rotation, Minnesota trailed the No. 8-ranked Razorbacks 98.475 to 97.800. Arkansas opened the meet with a 49.100 on vault with Jaime Pisani leading the way with a 9.900. Both Pisani and Mariah Howdeshell came out in the second rotation to score a 9.925 on bars en route to a team score of 49.375.
The Gophers narrowed the Razorbacks lead in the third rotation as they performed on the floor, which is the team's strongest event. Four Minnesota gymnasts scored a 9.800 or better with Campbell getting the team's highest score of 9.875, which tied for second. Freshman Kylie Schermann and junior Shannon Golich were next in line for the Maroon and Gold as each of them scored a 9.825, respectively.
Minnesota struggled on beam in the final rotation as they posted a 48.575, due to a few miscues. A highlight on the apparatus was Golich, who second with a 9.875. The next best scores on beam were a pair of 9.800's, which came from Shermann and senior Amber Hammerschmidt, who scored her career-best.
"We are still looking to solidify our sets on bars and beam, so hopefully, we can figure that out sooner rather than later with the end of the season in sight," added Stephenson. "Despite that, I feel that this meet will help us prepare for the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Regionals."
The Gophers return to Minneapolis, Minn. next weekend for their final home meet of the 2012 season. The Maroon and Gold will host Iowa State at 6 p.m. in the Sports Pavilion, and they will honor Ennis, Hammerschmidt and Briana Jones for Senior Night.
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