The University of Minnesota women’s gymnastics team celebrated the 2009 season at the annual awards banquet on Sunday morning. Senior captain Carmelina Carabajal garnered the team’s Most Valuable Performer Award for the third consecutive year. Sophomore Kendra Elm and junior Alexis Russell shared the Most Improved Award. Carmelina Carabajal was the recipient of the Mariam Award, and Lucy Elm was named the Freshman of the Year.
Carabajal earned Team MVP honors for the third time in her career after also being named the 2007 and 2008 MVP. Carabajal earned two individual Big Ten titles in 2009, winning the all around and the balance beam at the Big Ten Championship. A three-time All-Big Ten honoree, she tallied the team’s top scores of the season on vault, beam, floor and the all around. She hit 47 of 47 routines she performed in competition, and led the team in average score on vault and beam. She finished her career listed among the Gophers' all-time top three performers on vault, beam, floor and the all around.
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 Carmelina Carabajal. She served as a team captain in 2009 and was a top performer throughout her collegiate gymnastics career. Carabajal also achieved academically, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors three times as a kinesiology major.
Alexis Russell and Kendra Elm were named the team’s Most Improved Gymnasts. Russell was also named the Most Improved Gymnast in 2008, and continued her climb in 2009. Russell earned first-team All-Big Ten honors this season, marking her first career all-conference award. At the Big Ten Championship, Russell was the runner up on uneven bars, and placed fourth in the all around with a score of 39.45, just .05 lower than the first place score of 39.50. She earned her career-best all around score of 39.45 twice in 2009, and is now tied for fifth place on Minnesota’s all-time top performers list in the all around. At the final home meet of the season, Russell earned a 9.95 on floor, tying the team’s best of the season and earning her a spot in the top three on the team’s all-time top performers list. She also bettered her top bars score, earning a 9.90 twice during the season, and moved into eighth place on the all-time top performers list for bars. She tied for the team lead in average bars score. Russell was the team’s top scorer on floor at six meets and had the team’s best bars score at six competitions. She won 11 event titles in 2009, including four on bars, one on beam, three on floor, and three in the all around.
After competing on bars and floor in 2008, Kendra Elm added vault and beam and became an all around competitor in 2009. She posted her best score of 39.075 against Northern Illinois and is now tied for ninth on Minnesota’s all-time top performers list in the all around. Elm bettered her top performances on bars and floor, earning season and career high scores of 9.85 on bars and 9.825 on floor this season. On vault, her best score was 9.775, while she earned a top score of 9.825 on beam.
Lucy Ennis was named the team’s Freshman of the Year. She was a regular competitor on vault and floor throughout the 2009 season, and competed on bars in the second half of the season. She posted season-best scores of 9.75 on floor, 9.775 on vault, and 9.85 on bars.
Ten Gopher gymnasts earned letter awards: Ana Balboa, Jade Beattie, Jamie Bullock, Carmelina Carabajal, Kendra Elm, Lucy Ennis, Kristin Furukawa, Yuri Nagai, Alexis Russell, and Angela Walker.
Five members of the women’s gymnastics team earned Academic All-Big Ten Awards in 2009. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be in at least her sophomore season, be a letterwinner, and have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better. The Academic All-Big Ten award recipients for 2009 are: Ana Balboa, Jade Beattie, Carmelina Carabajal, Kendra Elm, and Angela Walker.