The No. 13 Gophers head to Illinois on Saturday. The triangular meet featuring Illinois, Minnesota and Central Michigan will begin at 5 p.m. at Huff Hall. Live scoring for the meet will be available on the Illinois website at www.fightingillini.com.
Minnesota is moved up to No. 11 in this week’s edition of the GymInfo National Rankings. It’s Minnesota’s highest national rank since finishing the 2002 season ranked No. 9.
In the event rankings, the Gophers moved into the top 25 in all four events this week. Minnesota is listed No. 23 on vault, No. 16 on bars, No. 18 on beam and tied for No. 9 on floor.
Last time vs. Illinois
The last meeting between the Gophers and the Illini was at the 2010 Big Ten Championship. Minnesota finished in a tie for fourth place with a score of 195.350, while Illinois was sixth with a 195.025.
Illinois won the last dual meet between the teams, winning 196.325-195.325 in Minneapolis on Feb. 20, 2010.
Elm a Force in the All Around
Senior Kendra Elm has been an all around competitor in the last two meets, and has won the all around title both times. Last Saturday against Air Force, Elm tallied a 39.225 to mark her personal best in the all around. She earned scores of 9.80 or higher in every event. Elm is currently ranked No. 22 in the nation in the all around.
Another Freshman Star, Another Big Ten Award
Kayla Slechta was named the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week on Jan. 31 for her performance against Air Force last weekend. Slechta is the second Gopher freshman to win the award this season after Dusti Russell was the Jan. 17 winner.
Against Air Force, Slechta won the vault (9.850), tied for second on bars (9.80) and tied for second on floor (9.850). Her scores on bars and floor were personal bests. Slechta led the Gophers to season-best scores in all three events she competed in. She has won the vault title in three of four competitions this season. In the current national rankings, Slechta is tied for No. 25 on vault.
Golich in a Groove on Floor
Sophomore Shannonn Golich took first place on floor with a 9.875 against Air Force last weekend, and tied for first on floor at Michigan State (Jan. 22) with a 9.80. The event titles are the first in Golich’s collegiate career. Due to injury, Golich was only able to compete on floor in the last four meets of her freshman season, but look for her to be a major contributor this season. Of the regular competitors on floor, Golich has the highest season average with a 9.812. With an average of 9.75 on beam, she also has the highest beam average among gymnasts who have competed in all four meets this year.
Breakout on Floor
All five counting scores for Minnesota on floor in the last competition were 9.80 or higher. All five counting scores were also season-bests for those gymnasts: Ana Balboa, Janell Campbell, Kendra Elm, Shannon Golich and Kayla Slechta. Minnesota’s team score on floor was 49.20, up .225 from the previous season best of 48.975.
It’s Been Awhile
The last time Minnesota scored higher than 195.575 (last weekend’s score) was at the 2009 Big Ten Championship when the team earned a 196.00. In 2009, Minnesota had eights scores over 195. Last year, the Gophers had six scores of 195 or better, but the highest score in 2010 was a 195.350.
Last Meet Recap
The Golden Gopher women’s gymnastics team earned its best score this season with a 195.575. Minnesota tallied season-high scores on vault, bars and floor in route to winning the meet against Air Force, who scored 191.50, its best score this season. Senior Kendra Elm was the all around champion with a personal-best 39.225.
Minnesota started the meet strong, earning a 48.925 on vault. The mark is the best for the Gophers on vault this season. Kayla Slechta and Lucy Ennis were the top scorers in the event, each earning a 9.85 to tie for first place. Ennis’ score is a personal best. Kendra Elm turned in a 9.80 to place third. Shannon Golich earned her best score this season with a 9.75. Janell Campbell had her career-high score, earning a 9.675. Air Force earned a 47.675 on bars in the first rotation, it’s best bars score of the season.
The Gophers had another season-best on bars, earning a 48.950. Senior Kristin Furukawa led the way, winning the event with her best score of the year, a 9.875. Furukawa’s mark is the best bars score by a Minnesota gymnast this season. Kendra Elm and Kayla Slechta each earned marks of 9.80, both were best scores for the season. Megan Alvarez had her top score this season as well, earning a 9.55. Air Force earned a 47.975 on vault, led by Brittany Dutton who scored 9.675.
The Gophers were up on beam in the third rotation, and earned a 48.50. Kendra Elm was the team’s top scorer, winning the event with a season-best 9.80. Shannon Golich and Kristin Furukawa each earned scores of 9.775. Air Force earned a 48.125 on floor in the third rotation, its best floor score in 2011. The Falcons were led by Brittany Dutton, who scored 9.775.
Minnesota saved the best for last, earning the best event score of the season on any event, a 49.20. Shannon Golich was the event winner, earning a personal best 9.875. Golich’s score ties the best floor score for the Gophers this year. Janell Campbell and Kayla Slechta were second with their best scores of the season, a 9.85 each. Kendra Elm (9.825) and Ana Balboa (9.80) also had their best floor scores of the year. Air Force earned a 47.725 on beam, led by Linnea Hance’s mark of 9.75.
Kendra Elm was the all around champion, earning her personal best score of 39.225.
The Gophers tallied a 195.575, the team’s best score since the 2009 season. Air Force finished with a 191.50, the Falcons’ best score this year.
Coaching the Gophers
Head coach Meg Stephenson is in 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.
Coming up Next
The Gophers return to the Sports Pavilion on Saturday, Feb. 12 for the annual Always Dreaming Best of Minnesota Meet. The meet features all four collegiate women’s gymnastics programs in Minnesota, and serves as a fundraising and awareness campaign for the American Cancer Society. The meet is Always Dreaming in honor of former U of M complaince director Frank Kara, who lost his battle with cancer several years ago. Always Dreaming was Frank’s signature sign off.
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.