2013 Season Preview: Seniors

Go Gophers! Shannon Golich
Go Gophers!
Shannon Golich
Go Gophers!

Jan. 11, 2013

The 23rd-ranked University of Minnesota women’s gymnastics team makes its 2013 regular season debut on Saturday evening, with a 6:00 p.m. CT meet at the Sports Pavilion against No. 17 Washington.

Today is the final part of a class-by-class preview of what to expect from the 2013 Golden Gophers, focusing on this year’s senior class.

Last Saturday, following the Golden Gophers’ impressive Intrasquad Meet at the Sports Pavilion, the team and coaches joined members of the 10.0 Club for a meal in the Sports Pavilion Club Room. After club co-chair Brenda Hammerschmidt and Minnesota head coach Meg Stephenson had each addressed the group, senior captain Janell Campbell stepped to the front and took her turn to speak.

From the moment she began, two things were clearly evident. First, Cambell has tremendous poise and confidence. Beyond the immense talent and skill she displays as a gymnast, you can quickly get a sense of the leadership skills that will make her a great team captain this season.

The second thing that stood out was that she cares tremendously for every person involved with the program…and she’s already emotional about the fact that this is her last season of collegiate competition.

As Campbell spoke to her teammates about the things she felt the team could accomplish in 2013 and how proud she was of all of them, the tears started to flow. Well, almost. Her teammates giggled and quickly reminded Campbell that the season had yet to begin.

It’s a season that holds tremendous promise for a Golden Gophers team that returns the vast majority of its routines following a season in which Minnesota finished third at both the Big Ten Championships and at the Salt Lake City NCAA Regional.

Campbell, as well as her lone senior teammate, Shannon Golich, each will play major roles in every success the Gophers enjoy this season. And it’s not beyond reason for Minnesota’s fans to have hopes for the team’s first trip to the NCAA Championships since a ninth-place finish there in 2002.

“Anybody who comes to our meets this year is going to have a wonderful experience, because this team is really special,” Stephenson said. “The camaraderie and the chemistry of this team are amazing, so we’re really excited about how that will play out in the success of this season.”

“Janell and Shannon are both tremendous leaders for us, and are very consistent performers for us,” Stephenson said. “The two of them typically combine to do seven routines for us. Janell is working the all-around for us, with a much-improved vault, and Shannon showed good consistency on vault for us last year.”

 “On beam, Shannon competed in every meet for us last year, and Janell has added some new skills, so we’re hopeful that she’ll be able to be in the lineup,” Stephenson said. “On uneven bars, Janell was our strongest competitor last year, so we’re looking for her to once again lead the team on that event.”

“On floor exercise, both of them are very strong competitors who have had consistently-high scores for us, so we’ll count on their experience and leadership again this year.”

“I think what’s unique about this team is that, of the 11 gymnasts we have competing this season, 10 of them are doing the all-around and one of them (Golich) is doing three-of-four events,” Stephenson said. “So, we don’t have quite as many team members as we typically might, but we have much more depth in the sense that we have so many people training in the all-around. So that’s really exciting for us.”

Saturday is Kayla Slechta Community Night. To order tickets, call the Gopher Ticket Office at 612.624.8080 or 1.800.U.GOPHER, or visit www.mygophersports.com.