The University of Minnesota women’s gymnastics team celebrated the 2010 season at the annual awards banquet on Sunday morning. Senior Alexis Russell garnered the team’s Most Valuable Performer Award after earning a trip to the NCAA Championships. Ana Balboa, a junior, received the Most Improved Award. Russell was the recipient of the Mariam Award, and Shannon Golich was named the Freshman of the Year.
Russell earned MVP honors for the first time in her Gopher career, after being named Most Improved in 2008 and 2009. Russell was an NCAA Championships qualifier, and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors. She had the team’s highest average score for the season on bars, floor, and the all around. Russell was the all around winner at four meets this season, and placed seventh in the all around at the Big Ten Championships.
The Mariam Award, named for former Gopher gymnast Mariam 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 Alexis Russell.
Ana Balboa earned the team’s Most Improved Award. Balboa was a regular performer on beam and floor throughout the 2010 season. She carried the team’s top average score on beam, and was the only regular beam performer not to record a fall during the season. Balboa earned a career-best 9.825 on floor, and carried the highest floor average of her career in 2010.
Shannon Golich was named the team’s Freshman of the Year. She competed on beam, vault and floor in the later portion of the season after rehabilitating injuries. She vaulted in four meets, and had a season-best 9.775 at the Big Ten Championships. Golich competed on floor in the final four meets of the year, earning a top score of 9.825 and an average of 9.731. She competed on beam in nine meets, earning a top score of 9.825 at the Big Ten meet.
Twelve Gopher gymnasts earned letter awards: Ana Balboa, Jasmine Brown, Jamie Bullock, Janell Campbell, Kendra Elm, Lucy Ennis, Kristin Furukawa, Shannon Golich, Amber Hammerschmidt, Briana Jones, Yuri Nagai, and Alexis Russell.
The coaches also announced that the 2010 team captain, Kristin Furukawa, will again serve as team captain in 2011.