The Gophers are home again this weekend, hosting Iowa State in a rare Sunday afternoon competition. The meet will start at 2 p.m. at the Sports Pavilion. With a wrestling meet against Iowa starting at the same time in the adjacent Williams Arena, fans are encouraged to arrive early to avoid traffic congestion.
Minnesota moved up to No. 15 in this week’s edition of the GymInfo National Rankings. In the event rankings, Minnesota is listed No. 17 on bars, No. 14 on beam and No. 15 on floor.
Two Gopher gymnasts are ranked among the top 25 in the individual national rankings. Kayla Slechta is ranked No. 22 on vault, while Lucy Ennis is ranked No. 8 on bars.
Last Season vs. Iowa State
Iowa State won both meetings between the Gophers and Cyclones in 2010. Iowa State won in Ames on Feb. 26, 195.475-195.200. The Cyclones defeated the Gophers 196.225-195.300 at the Sports Pavilion on March 20.
It’s Been Awhile
The last time Minnesota broke the 196 barrier was at the 2009 Big Ten Championships, where Minnesota earned an even 196.00. The Gophers surpassed 196 twice in the 2009 season, earning a 196.750 in the regular season finale, a dual meet against Iowa in addition to the 196.0 at the Big Ten meet.
One for the Record Book
Minnesota vault score at the Best of Minnesota meet ties the fifth-best vault score in program history. The Gophers also scored a 49.175 in the 2001 season in a dual meet against Arizona. The two scores of 49.175 rank as the top vault scores at a home meet as the top four vault scores in team history were all achieved on the road. Minnesota’s vault mark from last weekend is the best since the Gophers scored 49.30 on vault at Arizona State in the 2004 season.
Furukawa Finishes First
Senior captain Kristin Furukawa took first place in both events in which she competed at the Best of Minnesota Meet. Furukawa tied with teammate Lucy Ennis for first place on bars with a 9.85, and won beam with a 9.925. Her beam score ties her personal best, and places her in a tie for sixth place on Minnesota’s all-time top scores list for the balance beam.
This season, Furukawa has four bars titles and two beam titles to her name.
Only one gymnast in the country (Ashanee Dickerson of Florida, 9.975) has scored higher than 9.925 on beam this season, placing Furukawa in a tie for the second-best beam score in the country so far this year.
It’s early in her career, but Gopher freshman Kayla Slechta has certainly made her mark on the Minnesota women’s gymnastics program. She has been the top scorer for the Gophers on vault at five of six competitions this season, and has won vault at four meets. She has scored 9.80 or better in every competition.
Slechta is currently ranked No. 22 in the nation on vault. Her score from last weekend, a 9.925, ties for the 11th-best vault score in the nation so far this season. She is now tied for No. 4 on Minnesota’s all-time top scores list on vault. She’s the second-highest scoring freshman on vault (Carolyn Yernberg earned a 10.0 on vault as a freshman in 2002).
Slechta has also been a top performer on floor in the four meets she’s been in the line up. She averages 9.794 on floor, and has scored 9.80 or better twice.
Ennis Strong on Vault and Bars
Junior Lucy Ennis earned a personal-best 9.875 on vault last weekend, a nearly-perfect score on her handspring front pike, which has a start value of 9.90. She averages 9.775 in five performances on vault this season.
Ennis has competed on bars at the last two meets after missing the first month of the season while recovering from a preseason elbow injury. Ennis has earned marks of 9.875 and 9.85 in her two appearances on the unevens, giving her an average of 9.863. That average places her in a tie for No. 8 in the national rankings and second in the Big Ten rankings in the event. She has tied for first place on bars in both meets in which she’s competed.
Career Bests for Campbell
Sophomore Janell Campbell had one of the best meets of her career last weekend at the Best of Minnesota. Campbell earned personal-best marks on vault (9.80) and bars (9.825) and scored 9.825 to place second on floor. In her three events, she averaged 9.817 in the competition.
Golich Tops on Floor
Sophomore Shannon Golich has been Minnesota’s top scorer on floor at three meets this season, and won her second floor title last weekend with a 9.85 at the Best of Minnesota Meet. Golich owns the team’s top average score on floor, averaging 9.804 this year.
Hammerschmidt on the Mend
Junior Amber Hammerschmidt has been hampered by a back injury early this season, but had a strong meet last weekend at the Best of Minnesota. She earned a personal-best beam score (9.775), and made her first appearance of the year as an exhibition floor performer.
Russell to Return?
Freshman Dusti Russell was a top performer for the Gophers in the first two meets this season, but has missed the last month of competition while recovering from an elbow injury. The coaches are hopeful she can return to the line up this week. Russell was the team’s top scorer on beam and floor in the meets in which she competed.
Last Meet Recap
The Golden Gophers earned their best score of the 2011 season with a 196.125 at the Best of Minnesota Meet. Minnesota had season-best scores on vault, bars and beam in route to their highest team score since the 2009 season.
Minnesota started the meet with a vault performance for the record books. The Gophers tallied a 49.175 to tie the fifth-best vault score all-time and mark the best vault score for the Gophers since the 2004 season. Four Gophers scored 9.80 or better. Kayla Slechta led the way with a personal best 9.925. Slechta’s vault score ties for fourth-best all-time in Minnesota gymnastics history. Lucy Ennis also earned a personal-best score, earning a 9.875. Janell Campbell and Kendra Elm each earned scores of 9.80, Campbell’s score was a career high. Yuri Nagai and Shannon Golich each scored 9.775. Golich’s score tied her personal best, and Nagai’s score was her best this season.
In the second rotation, the Gophers moved to bars where they had a season-best score of 49.075. Lucy Ennis and Kristin Furukawa were the top scorers for the Gophers on the unevens, each earning scores of 9.85. Janell Campbell earned a 9.825 to mark her personal best score. Kendra Elm matched her best bars score of the season with a 9.80. Yuri Nagai had a season-best mark of 9.75.
The Gophers continued strong in the third rotation, earning another season-high score. Minnesota’s tally on beam was a 49.025, led by Kristin Furukawa’s score of 9.925. The score ties her personal best, and ties for the sixth-best beam score in Minnesota history. Shannon Golich and Kendra Elm each earned marks of 9.80. Both Golich and Elm tied their best scores this season. Amber Hammerschmidt tied her personal best beam score with a 9.775.
The Gophers compiled a 48.850 on floor, led by Shannon Golich. Golich earned a 9.85 to win the event. Janell Campbell was close behind with a 9.825 to place second. Kayla Slechta rounded out the top three with a 9.80.
Kendra Elm had her second all around score over 39 this season, earning a 39.075 to win the all around competition.
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 hit the road for a full weekend in California. Minnesota will compete at Cal State Fullerton on Friday, Feb. 25, and will face UCLA in Los Angeles on Sunday, Feb. 27.
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.
Live scoring and a live blog for all home meets will also be available on www.gophersports.com, free of charge.