Minnesota Heads to NCAA North Central Region Championships
No. 25 Minnesota travels to Denver for the NCAA North Central Region Championships on April 14. The competition will be held at the University of Denver’s Magness Arena, and will begin at 7 p.m. central time. Participating teams in the North Central Region are Georgia, Penn State, Denver, BYU, Minnesota, and Utah State.
Six teams, five all-around competitors (who are not on a qualifying team) and one individual event specialist per event (who has a minimum qualifying score of 9.4) were named to each of the six national regions. The top two teams and the top two all-around competitors (who are not on an advancing team) from each regional will receive an automatic berth to the national championships in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 26-28, hosted by the University of Utah.
Where Minnesota Stacks Up Against This Week’s Opponents
All six teams competing in the North Central Region are listed among the nation’s top 30. Georgia, the defending national champion, is the top-ranked team in the region, coming in at No. 2. Eleventh-ranked Penn State and No. 14 Denver were the other teams seeded among the top 18. BYU is ranked No. 23, followed closely by No. 25 Minnesota. Utah State comes into the regional meet ranked No. 28.
Last Year at the NCAA Regional Meet
The Gophers finished in fifth place at the 2006 NCAA North Central Regional Championship, held at Iowa State University. The Gophers earned a team score of 194.675, led by senior Laura Johnson who tallied a 39.250 in the all around. Johnson qualified to compete at the NCAA Championships as an individual all around competitor for the second straight season.
The Gophers started the competition on the beam, and tallied a mark of 48.825. Stephanie Funk started the Gophers off with a performance earning a score of 9.750 to tie her season-best score on the beam. Ashley Mutchler and Carmelina Carabajal followed with marks of 9.700 and 9.625, respectively. Laura Johnson performed fourth, and earned a 9.775. Angela Walker and Ashley Stanton wrapped up the rotation for Minnesota, and each earned scores of 9.800.
In the second rotation, the Gophers had a bye, and returned to competition on the floor exercise in the third rotation. As a team, Minnesota tallied a score of 49.025, the Gophers' second-highest floor score in the 2006 season. Amanda Miles led off on the floor, and received a score of 9.675. Ashley Mutchler earned a 9.775, and was followed by Carmelina Carabajal, who earned a 9.850 to set a personal best in the event and tie for fourth place. Ashley Stanton and Maria Opsahl each received scores of 9.775 for their performances. Laura Johnson was the final floor exercise competitor for the Gophers, and scored a 9.850. Carabajal and Johnson tied for sixth place in the floor exercise.
Minnesota moved to the vault in the fourth rotation. Jade Beattie was first up for the Gophers, and tied her career-best score with a 9.725. Ashley Mutchler vaulted second, and received a score of 9.825, her best of the season. Kim Womack earned a 9.625, and was followed by Maria Opsahl, who scored a 9.750. Carmelina Carabajal had Minnesota's best vault score, with a 9.850. Laura Johnson finished the rotation for Minnesota, earning a 9.825. The Gophers scored a total of 48.975, the team's second-best vault score of the season.
The Gophers had a bye in the fifth rotation, and competed on the bars in the sixth rotation. Rehana Russell and Ashley Mutchler were the first two bars performers, and earned scores of 8.925 and 8.550. Andy Cornelius competed third, and scored 9.600. Angela Walker tallied a 9.725, and was followed by Stephanie Funk and Laura Johnson, who each earned a 9.800. Minnesota's team score on the bars was a 47.850.
Two Gophers competed in the all around, Laura Johnson and Ashley Mutchler. Johnson tallied a score of 39.250 to place fifth in the all around. Mutchler earned an all around score of 37.850.
Minnesota’s History in the NCAA Regionals
The Gophers have advanced to an NCAA Regional Championship for 12 consecutive seasons. Minnesota has never won an NCAA Regional Championship, but did win two regional titles in the pre-NCAA era. The Gophers won AIAW regional titles in 1980 and 1982. In the NCAA era, the Gophers’ top regional finish was second in 2002.
Minnesota has had five gymnasts win 12 NCAA Regional titles. Robin Huebner was Minnesota’s first regional champion, winning the all around, bars and floor in 1983. Shelley Brown was the regional beam champion in 1986. Marie Roethlisberger won six regional titles in her career with the Gophers, including three on bars (1987, 1989, 1990), two in the all around (1989, 1990), and one on beam (1989). Megan Beuckens won the regional floor title in 2000, while MaryAnne Kelley was the floor winner in 2002.
The Last Time in Denver
Minnesota’s last meet at Denver was a dual meet on Feb. 19, 2005. The Gophers lost to the host Pioneers 195.625-196.000. The last time Denver hosted an NCAA regional meet was in 2004. The Gophers finished sixth in that meet, scoring a 192.225.
Breakdown by Event
Vault - Freshman Alexis Russell owns three of the Gophers’ top five vault scores this season, including the team best of 9.900, which she earned against Washington (3/10). Russell has won or tied for first on vault twice this season, and has been the top Gopher scorer on vault four times this year. Carmelina Carabajal is also a top vaulter for Minnesota. Carabajal has competed on vault seven times this season, scoring at least a 9.800 six times. Her best score of 9.850 was scored twice, against Washington (3/10) and at Utah State (3/17). Carabajal has been the team leader on vault four times this year, including the Big Ten Championships, and has the team’s best average vault score with an average of 9.818. Senior Kelly Ganchan and sophomore Jade Beattie were each Minnesota’s top vault scorer at two meets this season. Ganchan has the team’s second-highest average on vault with a 9.710.
Bars - Junior Angela Walker owns the top five bars scores for the Gophers this year, with her best score of 9.875 coming at Utah State (3/17). Walker was the top Gopher performer on bars at five meets this year, and won two event titles on bars. She was the team’s top performer at the Big Ten meet, earning a 9.850 to tie for eighth place on bars. Walker has the team’s highest bars average with a 9.758. Junior Andy Cornelius was a team leader on bars three times this season. Cornelius has the team’s second-highest average bars score with a 9.623. Alexis Russell was a top scorer for Minnesota at two meets, and won the bars title at the Best of Minnesota Meet (2/10). Junior Rehana Russell, a bars specialist, tied for the top Gopher score against West Virginia (3/24) with a 9.750. Senior Stephanie Funk was the top Gopher performer on bars in two meets early in the season before retiring from gymnastics due to injury.
Beam - Junior Ashley Stanton has led the team on the beam seven times this season, winning four beam titles. She owns three of the team’s top five scores in the event, including the team high of 9.875, scored at Arizona (2/2). Stanton has the team’s second-highest beam average with a 9.713. Angela Walker was a team leader on beam four times, and tied for first place on beam at Utah State with a 9.850. Junior Ashley Mutchler led the Gophers on beam at two meets, and tied with Walker for the team lead and the event title with a 9.850 in the meet at Utah State. Carmelina Carabajal is the only beam performer who hasn’t recorded a fall this season, and leads the team in average score with a 9.700. At the Big Ten Championship, Alexis Russell had the team’s highest score with a 9.800 to tie for eighth place.
Floor - Sophomore Carmelina Carabajal has won five titles on the floor this year, and owns four of the team’s top five scores in the event. She set a career-high with a 9.900 in the season opener against Iowa State (1/13), and has matched that score two more times this year. Carabajal has been a team leader on floor seven times this season, and owns the team’s highest average floor score with a 9.819. Andy Cornelius owns the team’s second-best floor score, a 9.875, and has had the team’s best score in three meets this season. Cornelius won her first floor title against West Virginia (3/24). Cornelius has the team’s second-best average floor score with a 9.727.
All Around - Minnesota has had two regular all around performers this season, Carmelina Carabajal and Alexis Russell. Carabajal has four of the team’s top five all around scores for the year, including a team-best 39.175, earned at Utah State (3/17). Russell also earned her best all around score at Utah State, tallying a 39.125 to mark the team’s second-best all around score of the year. Carabajal and Russell each have one all around title this year, with Carabajal winning at Utah State and Russell winning at the Best of Minnesota Meet (2/10). Russell has been an all around competitor at nine meets this year, while Carabajal has been in the all around seven times. At the Big Ten Championship. Carabajal was Minnesota’s top performer, earning a 38.775, her lowest all around score of the season.
Gophers Tough on Floor Again
For seven straight competitions, the Gophers have scored higher on the floor than the other three events. At Utah State on March 17, the Gophers tallied their season-best mark with a 49.200. Minnesota’s top event score at the Big Ten meet was a 48.750 on floor.
Success on the Road
Minnesota’s top three scores this season have all been achieved at away meets. Minnesota’s top score of 195.800 was earned at Utah State on March 17. Minnesota second-highest score (195.350) was scored at Iowa on March 4, and the third-best score of 195.125 was earned at Arizona on Feb. 2.
Challenging Schedule All 16 of Minnesota’s Division I opponents this season are currently ranked among the nation’s top 35, with 12 of those 16 teams listed in the top 25 this week.
Event Winners this Season
Of the 10 active gymnasts on the Minnesota roster, eight have won event titles this season. Carmelina Carabajal leads the way with seven event titles, five on floor, one on vault, and one in the all around. Ashley Stanton has won five titles, four on beam and one on floor. Alexis Russell has taken four titles, two on vault, one on bars, and one all around title. Angela Walker has won three event titles, two on bars and one on beam. Amanda Miles and Andy Cornelius have each won one floor title. Jade Beattie won a vault title, while Ashley Mutchler won a beam title.
Minnesota has the most event titles on floor this season, with eight. The Gophers have won five beam titles, four vault titles, two bars titles, and two all around titles.
This season, Minnesota has four different gymnasts who are the scoring leaders in the four events. Alexis Russell has the team’s top vault score with a 9.900 (Mar. 10). Angela Walker owns the top Gopher bars score with a 9.875 (Mar. 17). Ashley Stanton scored the team’s top beam score, a 9.875 (Feb. 2), and Carmelina Carabajal has the top floor score with a 9.900, which she has scored three times this season.
Carabajal Scores High
Carmelina Carabajal has earned a 9.800 or better six of the seven times she’s competed on vault this season. On floor, Carabajal has earned a 9.800 or better in 11 of 12 competitions.
Coaching the Gophers
Jim and Meg Stephenson are in their 15th season at the helm of the Golden Gopher program. Jim served as the head coach while Meg was an assistant until 1998, when Meg joined Jim as a co-head coach. Minnesota’s coaches have earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors four times during their tenure, and were honored with the Regional Coach of the Year award in 2002. The duo has a 138-117-1 record as co-head coaches, while Jim has a 197-186-1 record in his tenure with the Golden Gophers.