Minnesota Qualifies for NCAA Championships
April 6, 2013
GAINESVILLE, FLA. - Minnesota's magical season will continue in Los Angeles in two weeks!
On Saturday, the Gophers accomplished what they had been aiming for all season, finishing second at the Gainesville Regional to qualify as a team for the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2002.
"It feels fantastic. From the summer, we felt like this group had what it takes to make it and they pulled together under great leadership," head coach Meg Stephenson said. "I've been saying all year long they're the real deal. It feels great to have them rewarded for all of their hard work."
The Gophers finished with a team total of 197.100 points, while the top-ranked Gators won the team title with a score of 198.400. Auburn was third with a 196.700, while Maryland (195.575) was fourth, Pittsburgh (194.775) was fifth, and Bridgeport (194.225) was sixth.
"I think we're all a little star struck right now, but we are the real deal," senior Janell Campbell said. "All year, since the summer, the freshman came in early and we had a little head start to our preparation. This team is so incredibly special, and we believe in each other one hundred and fifty million percent, every step of the way."
Minnesota came up big when it needed it, as it scored a 49.525 on vault in the final rotation to surge past Auburn and capture second place behind host Florida. Minnesota's score on vault was the second-highest in the program's history, with only a 49.600 at UCLA on March 3, 2002 ranking higher.
Freshman Lindsay Mable paced the Gophers, placing fourth in the all-around by tying Minnesota's school record with a total of 39.600 points. Mable and sophomore teammate Jenny Covers were part of a five-way tie for first on vault with scores of 9.950. Mable's score tied her career-high, while it marked the first time Covers had scored a 9.950 on vault.
Mable also tied for fourth on uneven bars (9.900), tied for sixth on balance beam (9.875), and tied with sophomore teammate Kylie Schermann for sixth on floor exercise (9.875).
It marked the second time this season that Minnesota had scored greater than 197.000 points at Florida's Stephen C. O'Connell Center, as the Gophers scored a 197.175 in a dual meet versus the Gators on March 1.
The Gophers opened the meet with a bye in the first rotation before scoring a 49.250 on bars to start the meet. Mable led the way with her score of 9.900, but Campbell, sophomore Cierra Tomson and freshman Madie Hanley each added a 9.850 to help Minnesota get off to a good start on an event that has been challenging for the team this season.
Minnesota then scored a 49.100 on balance beam, with Mable once again leading the way with her 9.875, and senior Shannon Golich close behind with a 9.850.
Schermann and Mable each registered 9.875's on floor, while Campbell had a 9.850, to help Minnesota score 49.225 on floor to set itself up for the big finish on vault.
One of Minnesota's top events all season, vault was a great place to finish the night, and all six on vault for the Gophers registered a 9.850 or better to finish with the 49.525. Only Florida's team total of 49.600 was better than Minnesota's total on the apparatus, and the Gophers pulled into second place, as Auburn scored a 49.075 on beam after leading the Gophers by .050 heading into the final rotation.
"I can't even explain how amazing it was just to see everyone go out there, vault after vault, and hit everything like we know how to do," Mable said. "It's really rewarding to see everyone do exactly what they know how to do and to show everyone else, too."
Following the meet, it was announced that head coach Meg Stephenson had been named the North Central Region Coach of the Year, and her coaching staff of Jenny Hansen, Louie Johnson and Jim Stephenson was honored as the top staff in the region.
Minnesota will now spend the next two weeks preparing for its first trip to the NCAA Championships since finishing ninth during the 2002 season.