This Week: Best of Minnesota
The No. 25 Gophers return to the friendly confines of the Sports Pavilion to host the annual Best of Minnesota meet on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. The meet features the four collegiate women’s gymnastics teams from the state of Minnesota: the Gophers, Gustavus, Hamline, and Winona State.
This weekend’s meet is the annual “Always Dreaming” meet, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. The competition is named in honor of Frank Kara, who served as the Director of Compliance for Minnesota’s athletics department. Kara’s famouns tag line was “always dreaming.” Kara was a leader in his profession, and was a life-long Gopher sports fan. He lost his battle with cancer in 2007, and the “Always Dreaming” meet has since served as an annual cancer awareness and fundraising event in his honor.
On Saturday, fans will have the opportunity to have their face painted with a donation to the American Cancer Society. Pink bracelets will sold throughout the meet, and the proceeds from the post-meet paper airplane contest will go to the American Cancer Society.
Minnesota held onto a spot top 25 in the GymInfo National Rankings this week. Minnesota is listed at No. 25 this week with an average score of 193.587. Minnesota is ranked in the top 25 on uneven bars and floor. On bars, Minnesota is ranked No. 23 with an average score of 48.512 and No. 22 on floor with a 48.569 average.
Minnesota has two individuals listed in the national rankings this week. Alexis Russell is tied for No. 16 on floor with a 9.850 average, and is tied for No. 17 on bars with an average of 9.844. Jamie Bullock is tied for No. 15 on bars with a 9.850 average, and is tied for No. 7 on beam with a 9.850 average.
All Around Success
Minnesota’s top returning all around competitor, Alexis Russell, has been the all around champion at two meets this season, and has been Minnesota’s top all around scorer at all four meets in 2010. Russell’s top score this season was her winning tally of 39.250 against Michigan State on Jan. 23.
Russell Consistent on Bars
Senior Alexis Russell has earned scores of 9.825 or better in every competition this season. Her top score was a 9.875 in the season opener against Denver. She tallied a 9.850 at home against Michigan State, and earned marks of 9.825 in the two away meets this season, at Nebraska and Penn State.
Nagai Out with Injury
Junior Yuri Nagai, a regular competitor on vault and bars this season, will not compete this week. Nagai suffered a neck injury durinig her bars performance last weekend. She will be reevaluated after this week and may return to the line up for the meet at Michigan.
Last Meet Recap: Michigan State
The University of Minnesota women’s gymnastics team earned a 192.85 to place third in a tri-meet at Penn State. No. 1 Alabama won the competition with a 196.60, while Penn State was second with a 196.025.
Minnesota earned a total of 47.975 on vault, led by junior Kendra Elm, who scored 9.675 to tie for 11th place overall.
On the uneven bars, the Gophers tallied a 48.15, with senior Alexis Russell leading the way. Russell had a 9.825 to tie for fifth place on bars. Team captain Kristin Furukawa had her best bars score of the season with a 9.725.
Minnesota’s balance beam score was 48.10, with junior captain Kristin Furukawa earning the team’s best score. Furukawa placed 12th with a score of 9.75.
Senior Alexis Russell was the team’s top scorer on floor, earning a 9.875 to place second. Minnesota had its best team score of the meet on floor with a total of 48.625. Junior Ana Balboa scored 9.725, her best floor score this season.
Minnesota’s all around competitors, Alexis Russell and Kendra Elm, earned scores of 38.70 and 38.25, respectively. Russell placed third while Elm was fifth in the all around.
Topping 195 Early
Minnesota earned its first score over 195 in just the third meet of the season, a dual against Michigan State. The last time the Gophers topped 195 so early in the season was in 2004, when Minnesota scored 195.325 against UCLA at the Sports Pavilion on Jan. 25.
Coaching the Gophers
Head coach Meg Stephenson is entering her 18th season as a coach with the Golden Gopher program and her 13th 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 this season.
Stephenson is assisted by Jenny Alf Hansen and Louie Johnson. Both Hansen and Johnson are Minnesota alums.
Coming Up Next Week: Best of Minnesota
The Gophers head to Michigan for a dual meet against the Wolverines. The contest will begin at 5 p.m. central.
Gopher Gymnastics on the Internet
The remainder 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, with audio commentary by Gopher gymnastics alum Carmelina Carabajal.
Live scoring for all home meets will also be available on www.gophersports.com, free of charge.
Minnesota on the Big Ten Network
Minnesota will appear on the Big Ten Network three times this season. The home meet against Michigan State on Jan. 23 and the meet at Penn State on Jan. 30 will be telecast on a tape-delay basis. The Big Ten Championship will once again be televised live.