Minnesota finished the 2008 season with a No. 16 national ranking, the program’s best national finish since the 2002 season when the Gophers finished the season ranked No. 9.
CARABAJAL AT THE NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS:
Junior Carmelina Carabajal competed at the 2008 NCAA Championships in Athens, Ga., on the campus of the University of Georgia. In her final competition of the 2008 season, she earned an all around score of 39.000 to place 14th in her session and 28th overall. She was the top scorer in the all around among individual competitors, and was third overall among gymnasts from the Big Ten Conference.
Carabajal’s best performance was on beam, where she earned a 9.800 to tie for 11th place. She earned a 9.775 on floor in the fourth rotation to tie for 31st in the event. Carabajal tallied a 9.750 on bars, her first event, coming in tied for 37th place. Carabajal competed on vault in the final rotation, and earned a 9.675 to place 34th.
THE GOPHERS AT THE NCAA REGIONAL:
Minnesota finished in third place at the NCAA North Central Region Championships, held tonight at the Sports Pavilion. The Gophers scored a 195.275, their third-best score of the season.
Junior Carmelina Carabajal earned a spot in the NCAA Championships as an individual all around competitor. Carabajal earned a total score of 39.275.
The Gophers competed on floor in the first rotation, and earned a score of 48.850. Carmelina Carabajal was the top scorer for the team, earning a 9.850 to tie for sixth place. Amanda Miles earned a 9.800, while Alexis Russell and Ashley Mutchler tallied marks of 9.750. Kendra Elm earned a 9.700 to round out the scoring routines for the Gophers.
In the second rotation, the Gophers competed on vault, earning a total of 48.550. Alexis Russell and Carmelina Carabajal vaulted fifth and sixth in the rotation, and earned the teams highest scores as they each tallied a 9.800 to tie for 11th place. Angela Walker earned a 9.725, Ashley Mutchler scored 9.625, and Kristin Furukawa scored 9.600 to contribute to the team score.
Minnesota had a bye in rotation three, and returned to score a 48.900 on bars in the fourth rotation. Alexis Russell, the Gophers’ first performer on bars, earned the team’s best score with a 9.825. Russell tied for second place overall, and was Minnesota’s top placing gymnast in the meet. Kristin Furukawa earned a 9.800, the Gophers’ second-best score. Carmelina Carabajal earned a 9.775, while Kendra Elm and Angela Walker each tallied a 9.750 to count toward the team score.
The Gophers saved the best for last, as they earned their best team score of the meet with a 48.975 on beam. Carmelina Carabajal was the team’s top scorer, earning a 9.850 to tie for third place. Amanda Miles and Alexis Russell each tallied a 9.800 to round out the top three for the Gophers and tie for seventh place overall. Angela Walker’s 9.775 and Ashley Mutchler’s 9.750 also counted toward the team score.
In the all around, Carmelina Carabajal tallied a 39.275, just .025 shy of her personal best score. Alexis Russell earned a career-high all around total of 39.175, while Angela Walker earned a 38.425.
GOPHERS’ REGIONAL SCORE ONE OF THE BEST:
Minnesota earned its third-best NCAA Regional Championship score with a 195.275 at the 2008 North Central Regional. The Gophers have earned a regional score of 195.0 or better just four times in school history. Minnesota’s best regional score was a 196.050 in 2002. The team earned a 195.800 in 2001, and tallied a 195.125 in 1997. The Gophers advanced to the NCAA Championship in two of the four seasons in which they earned a 195.0 or better at the regional meet.
BIG TEN FINISHES STRONG:
All seven Big Ten women’s gymnastics teams finished among the top 30 in the final national rankings, with six teams in the top 20. Michigan finished the season tied for No. 8, Penn State was No. 14, Illinois finished at No. 15, and Minnesota came in with a final ranking of No. 16. Michigan State and Ohio State tied for No. 18. The only team not in the top 20 was Iowa, who finished at No. 29.
MINNESOTA AT THE BIG TEN MEET:
The Golden Gophers competed at the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan on March 29, and placed sixth with a score of 194.425. Carmelina Carabajal was the team’s top scorer in three of four events, and finished in a tie for fourth place in the all around with a total of 39.200.
Minnesota began the meet on floor, and struggled with two falls. As a team, Minnesota tallied a 48.225, the third-lowest beam total of the season. Carmelina Carabajal was the top performer for the Gophers, earning a 9.825 to tie for eighth place. Ashley Mutchler and Angela Walker each earned scores of 9.750.
The Gophers had a bye after beam, and were up on floor in the third rotation. Once again, Carabajal led the way for the Gophers, earning a 9.800 to tie for 10th place overall. Alexis Russell was the second-highest scorer for Minnesota with a 9.750. Minnesota’s score on floor was 48.675, bringing the team’s running total to 96.900 after two events.
After a bye in the fourth rotation, the Gophers competed on vault in the fifth rotation. As on floor, Minnesota was led by Carabajal and Russell, who both placed among the top 10 in the event. Carabajal was the team’s top vault scorer with a 9.825 to tie for eighth place, while Alexis Russell notched a 9.800 to tie for 10th place. As a team, the Gophers’ total score was 48.700, bringing the running score after three events to 145.600.
Minnesota wrapped up with bars in the sixth rotation, and had a bye in the seventh rotation. Angela Walker led Minnesota to its best event score of the night, as the Gophers tallied a 48.825 on bars. Walker was the top scorer with a 9.800, which placed her in a tie for 15th place. Kendra Elm was the second-highest scorer for Minnesota with a 9.775. Alexis Russell, Yuri Nagai, and Carmelina Carabajal each earned marks of 9.750 to round on the scorers for the team.
LEADING THE WAY:
Carmelina Carabajal owned or tied for the team’s top score in three of four events plus the all around in 2008. She tied with Kristin Furukawa for the best bars score (9.875), owned the top beam score (9.925), and owned the top floor score (9.875). She also led the way in the all around with a best score of 39.300, which she accomplished twice during the year. Carabajal had the team’s best average score on all four events.
CARABAJAL IN THE ALL AROUND:
Carabajal competed in the all around in all 15 meets of the 2008 season, and was an all around competitor in eight meets in 2007. She is the only team member who competed in the all around at every meet in the 2008 season.
Carabajal has scored a 39.0 or better in 11 of 15 competitions during the season, including two scores of 39.300, her personal best. Her all around marks of 39.300 put her in fifth place on Minnesota’s all-time top performers list, tied with former Gopher Judy Cavazos.
ONE FOR THE HISTORY BOOK:
Carmelina Carabajal’s score of 9.925 on beam against UIC (Feb. 23) was the best individual score in by a Gopher gymnast in any event in more than three years. The last time a Minnesota gymnast scored 9.925 or better was on Jan. 8, 2005, when Carolyn Yernberg earned a 9.975 on floor.
Seven Gopher gymnasts won event titles this season, earning a total of 29 titles between them. Minnesota had the most event titles on beam with eight. The Gophers also claimed seven titles on bars, five titles on floor, four in vault, and four in the all around.
Carabajal has the most titles this season, winning 19 event titles, including six on beam, four on vault, three on bars, two on floor, and four in the all around. Kristin Furukawa won three event titles this season, all coming on bars. Angela Walker won two event titles, with both of her titles coming on floor. Ashley Stanton won two balance beam titles this season. Amanda Miles has won one floor title, Jamie Bullock had one vault title, Yuri Nagai had one bars win.
GOPHERS BOAST THREE ALL AROUNDERS:
For the first time in the Stephenson era, Minnesota had three regular all around competitors in the line up: Carmelina Carabajal, Alexis Russell, and Angela Walker. All three had great results in 2008. Carabajal achieved her personal-best all around score, 39.300, twice. Angela Walker set her best all around mark with a 39.150 at Iowa State (3/2), and scored 39.0 or higher three times. Alexis Russell earned her best mark of the year, a 39.175, at the NCAA Regional (4/12) to set her career-high mark.
GOPHERS EARN BEST SCORE VS. OKLAHOMA:
Minnesota earned its highest team score of the year in the dual meet against Oklahoma. The Gophers tallied a 195.625.
FRESHMAN BOLSTER BARS LINE UP:
Minnesota regularly competed with three freshman in the bars line up, and the results were impressive. The Gophers tallied a 49.075 on bars against Illinois-Chicago, the best bars score since the 2006 season. The Gophers also surpassed the 49 mark with a 49.075 on Feb. 4, 2006 at New Hampshire. Minnesota earned a 49.000 on bars against Oklahoma (3/22). While the Gophers never scored over 49 on bars in 2007, they surpassed the 49 mark three times in 2008.
SENIORS CARRY BEAM TEAM:
While the Gophers used youth to their advantage on bars, Minnesota relied on the experience of its senior class to lead the beam team. All three seniors regularly competed on beam. Amanda Miles earned career-best scores of 9.850 twice this year. Ashley Mutchler earned her season-best score, 9.775, twice this season. Ashley Stanton has been one of the strongest and most consistent beam performers throughout her collegiate career. Stanton had a season average of 9.715 on beam, and matched her personal-best score with a 9.900 against Illinois-Chicago.
SUCCESS IN THE CLASSROOM:
Six gymnasts earned Academic All-Big Ten awards in 2008. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be at least a sophomore, earn a cumulative GPA above 3.0, and be a letterwinner. Minnesota’s 2008 Academic All-Big Ten honorees are: Jade Beattie, Carmelina Carabajal, Amanda Miles, Ashley Mutchler, Ashley Stanton, and Angela Walker.
Jade Beattie and Angela Walker each earned a perfect 4.0 GPA in the first semester of the current school year. Beattie is a junior majoring in phisiology and pre-dentistry. Walker is a senior academically and a junior in eligibility, and is majoring in neuroscience.
Beattie was honored by the McNamara Academic Center as a Top Five Student-Athlete this winter. The Top Five award winner must have participated on a Minnesota athletic team for at least three years, and have one of the top GPAs. Beattie has a cumulative GPA of 3.947.
FANS IN THE STANDS:
Gopher fans flocked to the Sports Pavilion in record numbers for the NCAA Regional Championship on April 12. Minnesota set an all-time attendance record with 3,571 fans at the regional meet.
The attendance at the 2008 Best of Minnesota Meet (1/9) was also one of the biggest in program history. With a crowd of 2,685, the attendance tied for No. 8 in Gopher women’s gymnastics history.
Minnesota’s total attendance in 2008 was 13,584, with an average of 1,941 per home meet. The 2008 home attendance average was the best since 2004, while the total attendance was an all-time record.
COACHING THE GOPHERS:
Jim and Meg Stephenson completed their 16th season at the helm of the Golden Gopher program. The duo has a 161-132-1 record as co-head coaches.
THE FUTURE OF GOPHER GYMNASTICS:
University of Minnesota women’s gymnastics co-head coaches Jim and Meg Stephenson have announced that two gymnasts will join the Golden Gopher program for the 2008-09 season. Lucy Ennis and Kylie Smith have signed National Letters of Intent, and will begin their freshman year in the fall of 2008.
Lucy Ennis is in her senior year at Trinity School at River Ridge in Bloomington, Minn., and resides in Roseville, Minn. She trains at Twin City Twisters with coaches Mike Hunger and Sami Wozney. Ennis is a three-time qualifier to the Junior Olympic Level 10 National Championship, earning trips to the national meet in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2008, she won the all around at the Minnesota state meet. She advanced ot regionals, where she finished second in the all around and vault, third on bars, fourth on beam, and seventh on floor.
Kylie Smith is a senior at Bishop Kelly High School in Tulsa, Okla., and resides in Broken Arrow, Okla. She attends Krafft Academy of Gymnastics and trains with coaches Kristi Krafft and Jean-Luc Cairon. Smith qualified for the Junior Olympic Level 10 National Championship in 2007 after placing first on vault, fourth on beam, and sixth in the all around at the regional meet. In 2008, she won the all around and three other events at the Oklahoma state meet. She went on to regionals, where she finished second in the all around and vault, sixth on bars, and eighth on floor.
Both Ennis and Smith will compete in the 2008 J.O. Level 10 National Championship on May 17-18 in Kissimmee, Fla.