The No. 14 Gophers hit the road for a competition at Michigan State on Saturday, Jan. 22. The meet will begin at 2 p.m. central (3 p.m. eastern) at the Jenison Fieldhouse. The competition will be televised on the Big Ten Network on a tape delay basis and will air on Jan. 29 at 10 a.m. central.
Minnesota is ranked No. 14 in this week’s edition of the GymInfo National Rankings, moving up three spots from the No. 17 ranking from last week. Among Big Ten teams, Minnesota is No. 2, with Michigan as the top conference team in this week’s rankings. In the event rankings, Minnesota is ranked among the top 20 in three events, coming in at No. 12 on bars and floor, and No. 18 on beam.
Individually, freshmen Dusti Russell is tied for No. 21 on beam after earning two scores of 9.825 this season.
Last Time vs. Michigan State
The last meeting between the Gophers and the Spartans was at the 2010 Big Ten Championship. Teh two teams came up even, tying for fourth place with scores of 195.350.
In the last dual meet competition between the teams, Minnesota defeated MSU 195.350-193.350 in Minneapolis on Jan. 23, 2010.
Big Ten Honor
Dusti Russell garnered the team’s first Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors for her performance against Iowa. Russell led Minnesota to its highest score of the season (195.325) and a win over No. 18 Iowa on Saturday evening.
Russell finished third in the all-around with a score of 38.925 after finishing first in the floor exercise (9.875) and second on the balance beam (9.825). The newcomer also posted scores of 9.675 on the bars and 9.550 on the vault. Her score of 9.875 on floor is the best by a Minnesota gymnast on any event this season. Russell is currently ranked No. 21 in the nation on balance beam, and has been Minnesota’s top scorer on both beam and floor at each competition so far this season.
The Big Ten Freshman of the Week Award was implemented in the 2010 season, and Russell is Minnesota’s first winner of the award.
Newcomers off to a Strong Start
Three members of the freshman class have competed in the first two competitions of the season, with great results.
Dusti Russell won floor vs. Iowa last Saturday, earning a 9.875 to mark the best individual score by a Gopher gymnast on any event this season. She has finished in second place on beam in both competitions so far, earning scores of 9.825 twice. Russell has been the team’s leading scorer on beam and floor in both meets.
Kayla Slechta won vault vs. Ohio State on Jan. 8 with a 9.825 and followed up with a 9.80 to finish second on vault against Iowa last weekend.
Alex Feeken has been the first performer in the beam line up, and has tallied two scores of 9.725. At Ohio State, Feeken was the second-highest beam scorer for Minnesota.
Ennis Back in Three Events
Junior Lucy Ennis suffered an elbow injury in the preseason, but is back in the line up a bit earlier than expected and making big contributions. In the season opener at Ohio State, Ennis just competed on floor, but moved into the line up on three events against Iowa last weekend. Ennis earned a 9.725 on vault and was the team’s third-best scorer in that event. On beam, she was inserted in the line up for Amber Hammerschmidt and tallied a 9.60 in her first beam performance of the year. On floor, Ennis scored a 9.80 to set a personal-best mark, surpassing her previous best of 9.775 from last season.
Best on Bars?
Senior captain Kristin Furukawa has been the anchor of the uneven bars line up since her sophomore season, for good reason. She tallied 10 scores at or above 9.80 as a sophomore, and five scores of 9.80 or better on bars as a junior last year. She’s already earned two score of 9.80 or better in just the first two meets of the 2011 season. Furukawa has tied for first place on bars in both meets so far.
Last Meet Recap
Minnesota defeated Big Ten rival Iowa 195.325-194.825 in the home opener at the Sports Pavilion. Highlights from the meet included Kendra Elm’s win on vault (9.85), Kristin Furukawa’s tie for first place on bars (9.85) and Dusti Russell’s win on floor (9.875). Minnesota improved its team score on every event over the previous week.
Minnesota started on floor, where they compiled a 48.70. Kendra Elm led the way with a 9.85, the best vault score for the Gophers this season. Kayla Slechta earned her second score of 9.80 or better this season, finishing in a tie for second place with a 9.80.
On uneven bars, Minnesota earned a 48.90 led by Kristin Furukawa. Furukawa tied for first place with a mark of 9.85, the best bars score for the team this year. Furukawa has been the team’s highest bars scorer at each meet this year, and has won or tied for first place in every meet. Janell Campbell tied her personal best on bars with a 9.80 to place fourth.
For the second week in a row, Dusti Russell was the team’s top beam scorer. Russell tallied a 9.825 to match her best score and lead the Gophers to a team score of 48.75. Shannon Golich and Ana Balboa each earned their best beam scores this season, tying for third place with marks of 9.80.
Minnesota saved the best for last, compiling a 48.975 on floor exercise, marking the top event score on any event this season. Dusti Russell was the event champion, earning a 9.875. Her score is the best by a Gopher gymnast on any event this year. Shannon Golich tied her personal best on floor with a 9.825 to tie for second place. Lucy Ennis set a personal best on floor with a 9.80 to tie for fourth place.
Dusti Russell was Minnesota’s lone all around competitor. She finished in third place with a personal best score of 38.925.
Coaching the Gophers
Head coach Meg Stephenson is entering her 19th season as a coach with the Golden Gopher program and her 14th as a head coach. Stephenson was a co-head coach with husband Jim from 1998-2009 before taking the helm of the Minnesota program on her own last season.
Stephenson is assisted by Jenny Alf Hansen and Louie Johnson. Both Hansen and Johnson are Minnesota alums.
The Gophers return home to host the Air Force Academy on Jan. 29. The meet will begin at 6 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion. The team will be celebrating Hometown Hero Amber Hammerschmidt, with discounted $2 tickets for fans from Amber’s hometown of Rosemount, Minn. The Gophers will also celebrate Military Appreciation Night with free admission for military members and their families.
The Big Ten Championship
The Gophers will play host to the 2011 Big Ten Championship. The competition will feaure all seven teams from the league and will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 19. Tickets are available and range in price from $5-$8. Call 1-800-U-GOPHER or visit gophersports.com for more information.
Gopher Gymnastics on the Internet
All of Minnesota’s regular-season home meets will have a live webcast on the Gophers’ website at www.gophersports.com. Audio and video coverage of each regular-season home meet will be available to Gold Zone subscribers. This season, Audio commentary will be provided by Gopher alums Jade Beattie and Jamie Bullock.
Click on the Gold Zone to find all the live events carried on www.gophersports.com.
Live scoring and a live blog for all home meets will also be available on www.gophersports.com, free of charge.