This Week: Best of Minnesota
The Gophers are on their home turf for the second week in a row as they host the annual Always Dreaming Best of Minnesota Meet at the Sports Pavilion. The meet will start at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 14, and features Gustavus, Hamline and Winona State in addition to the Gophers. A live webcast, as well as live scoring will be available at www.gophersports.com.
The annual Best of Minnesota meet has added to its name this season, and is now known as the Always Dreaming Best of Minnesota Meet. The competition is named in honor of Frank Kara, who served as the Director of Compliance for Minnesota’s athletics department. 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 Best of Minnesota meet will serve as an annual cancer awareness and fundraising event.
They Keep Moving Up
Minnesota moved up from No. 18 to No. 15 in the national rankings this week. In a strong conference, where six of seven Big Ten teams ranked in the top 25, the Gophers are the second-highest ranked team in the Big Ten. As a team, Minnesota is ranked in the top 25 in two events. The Gophers are listed at No. 11 on bars and No. 12 on beam this week.
Gophers in the National Rankings
Three gymnasts are currently listed among the top 25 in individual events. Carmelina Carabajal is ranked No. 23 in the all around, and is tied for No. 21 on balance beam. Kristin Furukawa is also ranked in two events, she is No. 7 on balance beam and tied for No. 21 on uneven bars. Alexis Russell is listed at No. 15 in the all around.
In the Big Ten
For the third consecutive week, Minnesota is the Big Ten’s top-ranked team on uneven bars, their average bars score is currently 48.925. The Gophers are ranked second on the beam with an average score of 48.775, and second overall with an average of 194.755.
Individually, five Gopher gymnasts are listed in the top 10 in the Big Ten rankings. Carmelina Carabajal is in the top 10 on four lists, ranking No. 2 on vault and beam, No. 10 on floor, and No. 3 in the all around. Alexis Russell is ranked No. 3 on bars and is the top-ranked all arounder in the Big Ten. Kristin Furukawa is ranked No. 1 on beam, and No. 2 on bars. Jamie Bullock is listed at No. 4 on beam, while Yuri Nagai is No. 8 on bars.
Minnesota’s all around performers, Carmelina Carabajal and Alexis Russell have combined for four all around wins this season. Last weekend, the pair combined for 78.625 points, or 40.1 percent of Minnesota’s scoring.
Russell in the All Around
Junior Alexis Russell notched a career-best in the all around last weekend (39.375), and set a personal-best mark on the bars with a 9.85. Her all around score ranks fifth on Minnesota’s all-time top performers list, and is the top all around score by a Gopher gymnast this season.
Carabajal Vaults to the Top
Senior Carmelina Carabajal took first place on vault with a 9.925 last weekend, marking the best vault score by a Gopher gymnast since the 2003 season. Laura Johnson, Carabajal’s club teammate from Albuquerque Gymnastics, was the last Minnesota vaulter to earn the score. Carabajal is now tied for third on Minnesota’s all-time top performers list for vault.
Furukawa Wins Twice vs. ISU
Sophomore Kristin Furukawa won two event titles against Iowa State last weekend, marking the first time she has won multiple event titles in her collegiate career. She scored a career-best 9.9 on bars to win her second bars title of the year. Her bars score is the best by a Gopher gymnast this season. In her first balance beam competition of the year, she scored a personal-best 9.875 to win the event. For her efforts, she was named Minnesota’s MVP for the meet.
Last Meet Recap: vs. Iowa State
Minnesota earned a season-high score to defeat Iowa State 195.775-195.225. Junior Alexis Russell led the way for the Gophers, tallying a personal-best mark of 39.375 in the all around, and earning personal-best scores on uneven bars (9.85) and floor exercise (9.875).
The Gophers started the meet on vault, where they earned their best vault total of the season with a 48.725. Carmelina Carabajal was the event champion, earning a personal-best 9.925. Carabajal’s vault score is the best by a Gopher gymnast since Laura Johnson earned a 9.925 in the 2003 season, and her score is tied for third on Minnesota’s all-time top performers list. Alexis Russell also finished in the top three, earning a season-high 9.85 to place third overall. Lucy Ennis tied for fifth place, and had the best vault score of her career with a 9.775.
In the second rotation, Minnesota competed on bars and had a total of 48.925. Kristin Furukawa won her second uneven bars title of the season, earning a 9.9 to set a new career-best score. Alexis Russell was the runner up on bars with a 9.85, a personal-best score. Lucy Ennis made her competitive debut on bars and earned a 9.65.
For the third week in a row, the Gophers earned their best score of the competition on balance beam. Minnesota had a total of 49.050, the third time this season the team has surpassed 49.0 on beam. In her first competition in the beam line up this season, Kristin Furukawa earned her second event title of the evening, tying for first place on beam with a mark of 9.875. Carmelina Carabajal was also in the top three on beam, earning a 9.825 to place third.
Minnesota finished the night on floor with a 49.075, the team’s top floor score of the season. Four Gopher gymnasts earned career-best scores in tonight’s meet. Alexis Russell was the Gophers’ top scorer, earning a career-high 9.875 to finish third overall. Kendra Elm also set a personal-best mark, earning a 9.825 to place fourth. Yuri Nagai placed fifth with her caerer-best mark, a 9.8. Ana Balboa tied for eighth place, earning a personal-best of 9.775.
In the all around competition, Gophers Alexis Russell and Carmelina Carabajal finished in the top two spots once again. This week, Russell was the all around winner, earning the best all around score of her career with a 39.375. Carabajal was the runner up, earning a 39.25.
Last Year at the Best of Minnesota
The Gophers won the 2008 Best of Minnesota meet with a score of 194.225. Winona State finished second (186.375), while Gustavus was third (178.600) and Hamline was fourth (177.850).
Coming Up Next Week: Iowa State and Nebraska
The Gophers hit the road for a pair of competitions next weekend. Minnesota makes its annual trip to Ames, Iowa, to take on Iowa State on Friday, Feb. 20. Then the Gophers head over to Lincoln, Neb., to take on Nebraska, UCLA and NC State in the Master’s Classic.