What a Year it Was
Minnesota has much to be proud of when looking back at the 2009 season. The team had two scores of 196 or better, marking the first 196-plus scores since the 2004 season. Two Gophers earned first-team All-Big Ten acclaim. Senior Captain Carmelina Carabajal won the Big Ten all around and beam titles. The all-time top performers lists in each event changed drastically this season after many great performances. Jade Beattie was named one of Minnesota’s Top Five for the second year in a row. 2009 was certainly an exciting season for the Maroon and Gold.
Minnesota finished the season ranked No. 28 in the country. Final national rankings are based on the NCAA Championship score for the 12 teams that advanced to the nationsl championship. For the remaining teams, the final national rank is based on National Qualifying Score, which is calculated by adding a team’s regional championship score to its RQS.
Minnesota at the NCAA Regional Championship
Minnesota posted a score of 193.775 in the NCAA North Central Region Championships, hosted by the University of Iowa. The Gophers finished in fifth place. Top-seeded Florida won the meet with a score of 196.775, while UCLA was second with a 196.625. Both Florida and UCLA earned trips to the NCAA Championships. Iowa State finished third (195.65), Denver was fourth (195.60) and host Iowa was sixth (193.625).
Minnesota’s first event was floor, where the team earned a total score of 48.775. Carmelina Carabajal and Alexis Russell were the top scorers for Minnesota, each with a 9.85 to tie for 11th place overall. Also counting toward the team score for the Gophers were routines by Kendra Elm (9.75), Yuri Nagai (9.7) and Ana Balboa (9.625).
On vault, the Gophers scored their highest event score of the evening with a 48.825. Vault was the highest-scoring event for Minnesota at just two meets this season. Tonight, Alexis Russell was the top performer for the team on vault, earning a 9.85 to place eighth. Carmelina Carabajal tallied a 9.825, while Jamie Bullock earned a 9.75. Rounding out the counting scores for the Gophers were Lucy Ennis (9.725) and Kendra Elm (9.675).
The Gophers moved to bars, where they tallied a score of 48.70. For the first time this season, Kendra Elm was the team’s top scorer on uneven bars, earning a 9.80 to place ninth overall. Kristin Furukawa earned a 9.775, and Alexis Russell had a 9.75. Lucy Ennis (9.725) and Carmelina Carabajal (9.65) also counted toward the team score.
Minnesota finished the meet on beam, which had been the strongest for the team during throughout the season. However, the Gophers struggled on beam tonight, earning a 47.475, the second-lowest beam score of the season. Carmelina Carabajal was the highest finisher for Minnesota, earning a 9.825 to tie for sixth place. Kendra Elm had the second-highest score for the team with a 9.675. Also with routines counting toward the team score were Kristin Furukawa (9.475), Ana Balboa (9.375) and Alexis Russell (9.175).
In the all around competition, Carmelina Carabajal was the top scorer for Minnesota with a 39.150, and tied for seventh place. Carabajal tied with Denver’s Kelly Hennigan, however, Hennigan won the tie breaker and earned a trip to the NCAA Championships as an individual all around competitor. Also competing in the all around for the Gophers were Kendra Elm, who scored 38.90, and Alexis Russell, who tallied a 38.575.
Big Ten Awards
Two Golden Gopher gymnasts were named to the All-Big Ten Team. Senior captain Carmelina Carabajal and junior Alexis Russell both earned first team honors. Carabajal earned All-Big Ten honors for the third time, while Russell earned her first All-Big Ten award. Minnesota had multiple All-Big Ten team members in the same season for the first time since 2005 when both Laura Johnson and Carolyn Yernberg earned first-team honors.
Senior Jade Beattie was honored with the Sportsmanship Award.
The Gophers at the Big Ten Championships
The Golden Gophers placed fourth with a score of 196.000 at the 2009 Big Ten Championship, led by all around and balance beam champion Carmelina Carabajal.
Carabajal scored a career-best 39.50 to win the all around crown. Her all around title is the sixth in Minnesota history, and the first by a Gopher senior. The team captain from Albuquerque, N.M., also won a Big Ten title on the balance beam, where she earned a 9.90.
The Gophers’ first event of the competition was floor exercise, where the team earned a 48.825. Carabajal was the top scorer for the Gophers, earning a 9.90 to tie for fifth place overall. Junior Alexis Russell was the second-highest scorer for Minnesota, earning a 9.875.
Minnesota moved to the vault, where they had their strongest performance of the season, compiling a team score of 49.075. Once again, Carabajal was the top scorer for the Gophers. She scored 9.875 to lead her team and place in a tie for sixth place. Sophomore Jamie Bullock was also in the top 10 on vault, tying for ninth place with a career-best score of 9.85.
The Gophers competed on uneven bars next, and matched their team score from the previous rotation, earning a 49.075 on bars. Alexis Russell was the top performer for the team, tying her personal-best score with a 9.90. Russell tied for second place in the event. Sophomore Kristin Furukawa also placed among the top 10 on bars, tying for sixth place overall with a mark of 9.85.
Minnesota finished the competition on balance beam. The team tallied a score of 49.025, led by Carmelina Carabajal’s winning performance. Carabajal scored a 9.90 to win the sixth beam title in Minnesota history and the first since Cathy Keyser won on beam in 1998. Jamie Bullock and Alexis Russell were also in the top five on beam, as each tied for fifth place with scores of 9.85.
Both Carmelina Carabajal and Alexis Russell finished in the top four in the all around at the conference championship. Carabajal took first place in the all around (39.50), while Russell was fourth, matching her personal best all around score with a 39.45.
Adding to the Gopher History Books
Carmelina Carabajal scored a career-best 39.50 to win the all around crown at the Big Ten Championships, becoming the first all around champion for Minnesota since Marie Roethlisberger won the title in 1989. With her score of 39.50, she now ranks third among the top all around performers in Minnesota history. Her all around title is the sixth in Minnesota history, and the first by a Gopher senior. Carabajal is now one of five Gopher gymnasts to win Big Ten all around titles, with the previous four coming between 1980 and 1989. She holds the distinction of being the only Gopher gymnast to win the Big Ten all around title as a senior.
The team captain from Albuquerque, N.M., also won a Big Ten title on the balance beam, where she earned a 9.90. Carabajal’s beam title is the sixth by a Gopher gymnast, and the first for Minnesota since Cathy Keyser won a Big Ten beam crown in 1998.
Carabajal is the first Golden Gopher gymnast in 20 years, and only the fourth in program history, to win multiple Big Ten championships in the same season.
Carabajal also has a Big Ten team championship to her name, as the Gophers claimed the Big Ten crown in her freshman season in 2006. She is one of 10 Gopher gymnasts to win both a team and an individual Big Ten title during her career.
Carabajal and Russell Carry Scoring Load
All around competitors Carmelina Carabajal and Alexis Russell have regularly contributed 40 percent of their team’s scoring this season. The two account for 33 percent of the team’s routines (eight of 24), but accounted for and average of 40.1 percent of the team’s scoring throughout the season.
At the Big Ten Championships, Carabajal and Russell each scored a 9.825 or better on every event they competed in, earning 78.95 of the team’s 196.0 points.
Bullock Back on Vault
Sophomore Jamie Bullock returned to the vault line up at Arkansas (3/6), after not competing on vault for more than a year. Bullock proved to be a vital member of Minnesota’s vault team, as Minnesota’s four best vault scores as a team came in the four meets with Bullock in the line up.
Bullock came back in grand fashion as she matched her then-personal best score with a 9.825 in her return on vault at Arkansas. She vaulted again against Iowa, and once again matched her best score, earning another 9.825. At the Big Ten Championship, she notched a 9.85 to tie for ninth place at the conference championship and set a new personal-best score.
Reaching the Magic 196
Minnesota earned two scores of 196 or better in 2009, a marked improvement in scoring over past seasons. The last time the Gophers had scored 196 or better was in the 2004 season.
It’s Been Awhile
Several of Minnesota’s scores from the meet against Iowa on March 14 will go down in the history books for the Gopher program. The team score of 196.75 was the best for the team since the 2004 season, and ranks as the fourth-best team score in program history. It was the second-best score for the team at a home meet in the Sports Pavilion.
The Gophers’ beam score of 49.30 ties for the second-best team beam score in program history.
The floor exercise scores of 9.95 by Alexis Russell and Carmelina Carabajal place them in a tie for No. 3 on Minnesota’s all-time top floor performers list. They are the best floor scores by a Minnesota gymnast since Carolyn Yernberg earned a 9.975 on floor in the 2005 season.
Kristin Furukawa’s bars score of 9.925 was the best bars score by a Gopher gymnast since the 2004 season. Furukawa is now tied for No. 6 on Minnesota’s all-time top bars performers list.
All three members of the 2009 senior class; Jade Beattie, Carmelina Carabajal and Angela Walker, earned Academic All-Big Ten honors in every year they were eligible for the award (freshmen are not eligible).
In addition to the academic honors from the conference office, Beattie and Walker also earned Academic All-America honors from the National Association of College Gymnastics Coaches for Women. Walker is a five-time NACGC/W Academic All-American, while Beattie is a four-time honoree.
Beattie is a two-time Top Five award winner, an award given to the five upperclass University of Minnesota student-athletes with the highest grade point averages. Beattie earned the distinction in both 2008 and 2009.
With six sophomores on the roster, the sophomore class makes up nearly half of the 13-member Gopher team. In the last half of the season, the sophomore class accounted for 13 of 24 routines.
Ennis Steps up for Freshman Class
Lucy Ennis was the only member of the freshman class to compete regularly in the 2009 season. Ennis competed on vault in every meet of the season, was in the floor line up at 10 meets, and was a bars competitor in seven meets.
Big Ten Gymnast of the Week
University of Minnesota senior gymnast Carmelina Carabajal garnered her second Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors of the 2009 season after capturing three individual titles, including the all around crown to lead the Minnesota women’s gymnastics team to victory against Iowa on March 14.
The senior captain posted a career-best 9.95 on floor, good enough to tie for third place on Minnesota’s all-time top performers list in the event. She tied with teammate Alexis Russell for first place on floor, helping Minnesota to its best floor score of the season. Her all around score of 39.375, which ranks fifth on the school’s all-time top performers list, was also a career high. The Albuquerque, N.M., native was Minnesota’s top scorer on vault, where she earned a 9.85 to tie for first place. She lead the Gophers to their best vault score of the season. On beam, she earned a 9.875 to tie with teammates Kristin Furukawa and Jamie Bullock for first place, en route to tallying the second-best team beam score in program history.
Carabajal was also named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Week on Feb. 16.
The March 14 honor marked the fourth career weekly laurel for Carabajal, who also picked up an award in March of 2007 and January of 2008.