The University of Minnesota women’s gymnastics team celebrated the 2011 season at the annual awards banquet on Sunday morning. Senior Kendra Elm garnered the team’s Most Valuable Performer Award, while sophomores Janell Campbell and Shannon Golich shared the Most Improved Award. Elm was also the recipient of the Mariam Award, and Kayla Slechta was named the Freshman of the Year.
Kendra Elm earned her first Team MVP award. She was an all around competitor in eight meets, and won all around five times. She also won one vault title, one bars title, and one beam title during the season. Against Air Forcem she earned a career-best 39.225 in the all around, which put her among the top 10 all around performers in team history. Elm was a second-team All-Big Ten honoree. Elm also achieved academically, earning Academic All-Big Ten and NACGC/W Scholastic All-America awards in every year she was eligible.
The Mariam Award, named for former Gopher gymnast Marian Pourshoushtari, is given annually to the gymnast who does everything possible to be the best gymnast and person she can be. This year’s award recipient is senior Kendra Elm.
Janell Campbell and Shannon Golich were named the team’s Most Improved Gymnasts. Campbell was a regular competitor on vault, bars and floor exercise. She improved her average score on all three events from her freshman season a year ago, and placed in the top three on bars at the Big Ten Championship. Campbell tied with Kristin Furukawa for the team’s top average score on bars in the 2011 season. Golich also competed in three events for Minnesota this season after missing much of her freshman season recovering from an injury. Golich was the team’s leader in average score on beam and floor.
Kayla Slechta was named the team’s Freshman of the Year. She was an NCAA Championship Qualifier , and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors. She was Minnesota’s first freshman to qualify for nationals as an individual competitor since Marie Roethlisberger in 1987. Slechta competed on vault, bars and floor all season, and added beam late in the season. She had the team's top vault score of the season, a 9.925 earned at the Best of Minnesota meet. With her vault score of 9.925, Slechta is tied for No. 4 on Minnesota’s all-time top scores list. She’s the second-highest scoring Gopher freshman on vault (Carolyn Yernberg earned a 10.0 as a freshman in 2002). She won vault eight times during the season, and was Minnesota's top vault scorer in all but one competition. In her all-around debut at Iowa State on March 4, Slechta posted a 39.125, marking the best score by a Gopher gymnast in her first all-around competition. Slechta is one of three Gopher gymnasts in program history to score 39 or better in her all around debut, joining Annie Laatsch and Lucy Ennis. Slechta was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice this season, Jan. 31 and March 7.
Twelve Gopher gymnasts earned letter awards: Ana Balboa, Janell Campbell, Justine Cherwink, Kendra Elm, Lucy Ennis, Alex Feeken, Kristin Furukawa, Shannon Golich, Amber Hammerschmidt, Yuri Nagai, Dusti Russell, and Kayla Slechta.
Seven members of the women’s gymnastics team earned Academic All-Big Ten Awards in 2011. Minnesota’s honorees were Ana Balboa, Janell Campbell, Kendra Elm, Lucy Ennis, Kristin Furukawa, Shannon Golich, and Briana Jones.