Gophers Trek West to Face No. 20 Washington

Jan. 13, 2014

Logo   No. 14 Minnesota at No. 20 Washington
Date Monday, January 13
Time 9:00 p.m. CT
Location Alaska Airlines Arena (10,000)
Last Meeting Minnesota 195.55-193.5 (Jan. 12, 2013)
Previews/Notes Minnesota | Washington
Television Pac-12 Network

This Week: Washington
Less than 53 hours after kicking off its season with a home tri-meet win and a score of 194.425, 14th-ranked Minnesota will head west to take on its first ranked opponent of the season in No. 20 Washington in Seattle, Wash. The meet, which begins at 9 p.m. (CT), will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. 

About Washington
Washington will begin its 2014 campaign with Monday’s meet. The Huskies enter the season as the 20th-ranked team in the nation. The Huskies, who narrowly missed out on reaching last year’s NCAA Championships, return six gymnasts from a season ago and are welcoming six newcomers.

Last Time vs. Washington
The last time Minnesota competed against the Huskies was almost a year ago to the day of Monday’s meet. The then-No. 23 Gophers upset then-No. 17 Washington, 195.55-193.5 in Minneapolis, winning the vault, uneven bars, and floor exercise events.

Last Meet Recap: vs. Air Force/Lindenwood
The Gophers started their season off with a first-place showing at a home tri-meet against Air Force and Lindenwood with final team score of 194.425. The Golden Gophers used a strong performance on the floor to take first place in the tri-meet that saw the Falcons register a 190.625 and the Lady Lions score a 185.625.

Minnesota started strong with a 48.9 team vault score. All six Gophers to compete--Rachel Haines, Cierra Tomson, Kayla Slechta, Kylie Schermann, Lindsay Mable, and Jenny Covers--finished with top-six scores. Mable paced the team with a 9.85 score and Slechta placed second with a 9.8 and freshman Haines came in third with a 9.775 in her first collegiate vault effort. 

Despite the fact that Minnesota gymnasts made up the top three finishers, the Falcons won the uneven bars with a team score of 48.2, edging the Gophers, who put up an even 48. Mable and freshman Bailie Holst shared first with scores of 9.85 and Covers finished third by tying a career-high score with 9.825.

In the balance beam competition, the Gophers got back on track by taking the event with a team score of 48.1. Sophomore Hanna Nordquist led the way with a 9.775 and was followed in the top three by teammates Haines (9.7) and captain Dusti Russell (9.65).

The strongest event of the night for the Gophers was the floor exercise. For the second time in the meet, Gophers made up the entire top six in an event. Mable wowed the crowd with a 9.975 performance, tying a career-best. Cierra Tomson placed second with the best score of her career, a 9.9. Slechta's 9.875 earned her third.

Mable was the meet's most valuable performer and was the all-around champion with a 39.175. Tomson had the second-best all-around score with a 38.125.

National Rankings
Minnesota entered the 2014 season ranked No. 14 in the GymInfo National Preseason Rankings. The Golden Gophers are one of six teams in the Big Ten Conference to receive a Top 25 preseason ranking. The only conference schools that are not in the national rankings are Michigan State and Iowa, but they are receiving votes. Last season, Minnesota went 16-7 against ranked foes. The Huskies will be the team’s first ranked opponent of 2014. 

Coaching the Gophers
Head coach Meg Stephenson is entering her 16th season at the Gophers’ helm. Stephenson is assisted by Jenny (Alf) Hansen and Louie Johnson. Both Hansen and Johnson are Minnesota alums. 

Next Meet: At New Hampshire
After flying out to the West Coast for Monday’s meet against Washington, the Gophers will head to the East Coast for a Sunday meet at New Hampshire. Ivy league foes Yale and Brown will also compete. 

Welcome Aboard
The Gophers welcome five newcomers to their squad this season. Colorado natives Bailie Holst and Bailey Abernathy join Rachel Haines, Kaitlin Rahon, and Brooklyn Park’s Athena Geisness. 

Haines kicked off her career with a 9.775 on the vault and a 9.7 on beam Saturday, while Holst shared the uneven bars title with a 9.85.

New Career Marks
Junior Cierra Tomson set a new career high score on the floor exercise Saturday with a 9.9, placing her second behind Lindsay Mable in the event. Jenny Covers tied her personal best in the uneven bars by notching a 9.825.