Gophers Finish Season Ranked No. 19
Minnesota’s regional championship score of 194.675 has earned the team a final ranking of No. 19. The Gophers were ranked No. 21 going into the NCAA Regional, but moved up two spots after a strong performance at the regional meet. The final rankings are based on scores at the team’s final NCAA competition.
The women’s gymnastics team celebrated the 2006 season at the annual awards banquet in May. Laura Johnson garnered the team’s Most Valuable Performer Award, as well as the Most Improved Award. Sophomore Angela Walker was the recipient of the Mariam Award.
Johnson earned Team MVP honors for the third time in her career. As a freshman in 2003, Johnson shared the award with Alicia Opsahl. She also earned the distinction as a junior last season. Johnson is the fourth Gopher gymnast to win three Team MVP awards in her career, as MaryAnne Kelley, Mindy Knaeble, and Marie Roethlisberger also accomplished the feat.
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 was Angela Walker, who overcame a knee injury to become one of the team’s top performers on the bars and beam. Walker has also achieved academically, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors as a neuroscience major.
Co-head coaches Jim and Meg Stephenson announced that Stephanie Funk has been voted to serve as team captain next year. Funk competed on the bars and beam in 2006, and had the team’s second-highest average score on bars.
Fourteen Gopher gymnasts earned letter awards: Jade Beattie, Carmelina Carabajal, Andy Cornelius, Stephanie Funk, Kelly Ganchan, Laura Johnson, Amanda Miles, Ashley Mutchler, Maria Opsahl, Rehana Russell, Ashley Stanton, Kelly Stout, Angela Walker, and Kim Womack.
At the NCAA Championships
Gopher senior Laura Johnson finished 20th in the all around in her session at the 2006 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships. "Laura was awesome on the floor," said co-head coach Meg Stephenson. "She was just .025 from earning All-America honors. She did a beautiful vault, and a really nice bars routine. She missed her mount on the beam, which she hadn't done all year, but the rest of her routine was just beautiful."
Johnson's highest finish was a tie for 17th place, with a score of 9.825 in the floor exercise. She came in tied for 19th place on the bars with a 9.775, and tied for 21st on the vault with a mark of 9.750. She recorded a fall on the beam, and finished in 42nd place on the beam with a mark of 9.125. Johnson finished 20th in the all around in her session with a tally of 38.475.
"We are so proud of Laura and the way she represented the University of Minnesota," said Stephenson. "She was a great representative of not only Minnesota, but the entire Big Ten Conference. She had a great meet, a fantastic season, and an incredible career."
Gopher assistant Coach Doug Day was named the NCAA North Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year. It is the second such honor for Day's career, after also earning the honor in 2001.
Day’s accolades also include being named National Women’s Gymnastics Assistant Coach of the Year in 2002, and National Men’s Gymnastics Assistant Coach of the Year while coaching at the University of New Mexico in 1995.
She’s No. 1
Laura Johnson won 27 event titles in 2006, including seven first-place finishes on the vault, seven wins on the bars, three top finishes on the beam, four first- place scores on the floor, and six all around titles.
Johnson swept first place on all four individual event plus the all around at two meets, the Best of Minnesota Meet on Feb. 11, and the dual meet at Iowa on March 5.
Johnson owns the best Minnesota scores of the season on three individual events, and the all around. She has the team’s top bars, and floor scores (9.900 on each event), is tied with Carmelina Carabajal for the top vault score (9.900), and has the best all around score (39.475).
Among Elite Company
Laura Johnson was named to the All-Big Ten first team this year, marking her fourth All-Big Ten honor. Johnson is one of just four Gopher gymnasts to be an All-Big Ten honoree in all four years of their careers. Most recently, Mary Skokut was an All-Big Ten honoree in 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. Mindy Knaeble was also a four-time all-conference gymnast, earning All-Big Ten honors in 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998. The first Minnesota gymnast to accomplish the feat was Marie Roethlisberger, who was an All-Big Ten honoree in 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990.
Laura Johnson and Marie Roethlisberger are the only two gymnasts in Gopher history to be four-time All-Big Ten honorees, individual Big Ten Champions, and win the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year award.
Into the Record Books
Laura Johnson earned a season-best 39.475 in the all around at Iowa last on March 5. Johnson is already listed at No. 2 onMinnesota’s all-time top performers list, since she earned a career-best 39.575 in the all around during her sophomore season in 2004. Her mark of 39.475 at Iowa ties the eighth-best Minnesota all around score in school history.
Call it a Streak
Laura Johnson was named the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year at the Big Ten Championships last weekend. A Gopher gymnast has won the award two seasons in a row, as Carolyn Yernberg was named the league’s MVP last season. Johnson is the fourth Minnesota gymnast to win the prestigious award, as Yernberg won in 2005, MaryAnne Kelley won in 2002, and Marie Roethlisberger was the Big Ten Gymnast of the year in 1987, 1988, and 1989.
Call it a Streak, Part Two
Minnesota gymnasts have now won Big Ten titles on the vault for two seasons in a row. In 2005, Ashley Mutchler was a co-champion on the vault, and Laura Johnson was a co-champion in 2006. The last time that Gopher gymnasts won Big Ten titles on the same event in consective seasons was in 1997 and 1998. Mindy Knaeble was a co-champion on the balance beam in 1997, and Cathy Keyser was the beam champion in 1998.
While the Gophers will certainly feel the loss of seniors Laura Johnson, Maria Opsahl, and Kelly Stout when they graduate this spring, there are plenty of reasons to look forward to an exciting competitive season from the Gophers in 2007. Many of the Gophers’ top performers at the NCAA Regional Championship are returning next season.
Minnesota’s top scorer on the vault at regionals was freshman Carmelina Carabajal, who earned a 9.850 to tie for fourth place. Laura Johnson and sophomore Ashley Mutchler each scored a 9.825 on the vault totie for 10th place. Both Carabajal, who shares the top Gopher vault score this season with a 9.900, and Mutchler, the 2005 Big Ten Vault Co-Champion, will return next season.
On the bars, Johnson and junior Stephanie Funk each scored a 9.800 to lead the Gophers. Funk has been one of the most consistent bars performers this season, and will return next year.
Beam performers Ashley Stanton and Angela Walker, both sophomores, led Minnesota on the beam at the regional, each with scores of 9.800 to tie for 11th place.
Frosh Carmelina Carabajal tied with Laura Johnson for the team’s best floor exercise score at regionals, with a mark of 9.850 to tie for sixth place.
The Streak Continues
In all five seasons in which the Gophers have won the Big Ten title, the team did not advance to the NCAA Championship. In 1988, Minnesota finished fifth at the NCAA regional. A year later, the Gophers came in fourth at the NCAA regional in 1989. In 1991, Minnesota did not advance to an NCAA regional. In 1998 and 2006, the Gophers finished fifth at their regional meet.
First Big Ten Win in East Lansing
Minnesota won its fifth Big Ten team title in 2006, but it’s first when the conference championship is held at Michigan State. Before this season, the Gophers won two league titles at Illinois (1988, 1991), and two at Iowa (1989, 1998).
Undefeated Against Conference Foes
Minnesota did not lose to a Big Ten team in the 2006 season. On Jan. 18, the Gophers defeated Penn State at the Sports Pavilion. On March 5, Minnesota won against Iowa in Iowa City. A week later, Minnesota beat Ohio State at the Sports Pavilion on March 11. On March 25, the Gophers took first place at the Big Ten Championship.
At the NCAA North Central Regional Championship
The University of Minnesota women's gymnastics team finished in fifth place at the 2006 NCAA North Central Regional Championship, held at Iowa State University. The Gophers earned a team score of 194.675, led by senior Laura Johnson who tallied a 39.250 in the all around. Johnson, a senior, has qualified to compete at the NCAA Championships as an individual all around competitor for the second straight season.
The Gophers started the competition on the beam, and tallied a mark of 48.825. Stephanie Funk started the Gophers off with a performance earning a score of 9.750 to tie her season-best score on the beam. Ashley Mutchler and Carmelina Carabajal followed with marks of 9.700 and 9.625, respectively. Laura Johnson performed fourth, and earned a 9.775. Angela Walker and Ashley Stanton wrapped up the rotation for Minnesota, and each earned scores of 9.800.
In the second rotation, the Gophers had a bye, and returned to competition on the floor exercise in the third rotation. As a team, Minnesota tallied a score of 49.025, the Gophers' second-highest floor score in the 2006 season. Amanda Miles led off on the floor, and received a score of 9.675. Ashley Mutchler earned a 9.775, and was followed by Carmelina Carabajal, who earned a 9.850 to set a personal best in the event and tie for fourth place. Ashley Stanton and Maria Opsahl each received scores of 9.775 for their performances. Laura Johnson was the final floor exercise competitor for the Gophers, and scored a 9.850. Carabajal and Johnson tied for sixth place in the floor exercise.
Minnesota moved to the vault in the fourth rotation. Jade Beattie was first up for the Gophers, and tied her career-best score with a 9.725. Ashley Mutchler vaulted second, and received a score of 9.825, her best of the season. Kim Womack earned a 9.625, and was followed by Maria Opsahl, who scored a 9.750. Carmelina Carabajal had Minnesota's best vault score, with a 9.850. Laura Johnson finished the rotation for Minnesota, earning a 9.825. The Gophers scored a total of 48.975, the team's second-best vault score of the season.
The Gophers had a bye in the fifth rotation, and competed on the bars in the sixth rotation. Rehana Russell and Ashley Mutchler were the first two bars performers, and earned scores of 8.925 and 8.550. Andy Cornelius competed third, and scored 9.600. Angela Walker tallied a 9.725, and was followed by Stephanie Funk and Laura Johnson, who each earned a 9.800. Minnesota's team score on the bars was a 47.850.
Two Gophers competed in the all around, Laura Johnson and Ashley Mutchler. Johnson tallied a score of 39.250 to place fifth in the all around. Mutchler earned an all around score of 37.850.
Minnesota finished fifth of six teams at the NCAA North Central Regional, which may initially look like a sub-par performance, until you look at the details. Minnesota had the highest score of any team that placed fifth in a regional meet. The Gophers also scored higher than all of the fourth-place teams in the other five regions. If Minnesota had been in any other region, and earned the same team score, they would have placed at least fourth. The North Central region was the only one of the six regions where all six competing teams were ranked among the top 25 nationally. At the North Central Regional, the difference between the Gophers’ fifth-place score (194.675), and Iowa State’s second-place score (195.725) was just 1.150. Seniors Set to Graduate
All three of the seniors in the class of 2006 will graduate with bachelor’s degrees this May. Laura Johnson will graduate with a degree in marketing and public relations, Maria Opsahl will receive a degree in elementary education, and Kelly Stout will graduate with a double major in history and political science. Stout will attend law school at the University of New Mexico next fall.
Johnson Named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week For The Fourth Time This Year
Laura Johnson was named the Big Ten Women’s Gymnast of the Week for the week of March 13. This is the fourth time Johnson has received the weekly conference honor this season, and she is the only Big Ten gymnast to win the honor four times this year. She is the only Gopher gymnast in program history to win the award four times in one season.
Against Ohio State, Johnson won the bars with a score of 9.825, and the floor exercise with a mark of 9.875. On the vault, she tied with teammate Carmelina Carabajal to take first place with a season-best 9.900. Johnson was also the all around champion, winning with her second-best all around score of the year, a 39.350.
At the time she received the award, Johnson had won 24 event titles in 2006, including five first-place finishes on the vault, seven wins on the bars, three top finishes on the beam, four first-place scores on the floor, and five all around titles.
Johnson Earns Third Big Ten Gymnast of the Week Honor This Season
Laura Johnson was named the Big Ten Women’s Gymnast of the Week for the week of March 6.
At Iowa on March 5, Johnson took first place in every event, including the all around to lead the Gophers to their best team score of the season, a 195.875. She earned season- best scores on the vault (9.900) and the all around (39.475) in the meet. Johnson has now made a clean sweep of the event titles at two meets this season, after also taking first in every event at the Best of Minnesota Meet on Feb. 11.
At Iowa State on March 3, Johnson was Minnesota’s top finisher in three of four individual events and the all around. She tied for second on the vault (9.850) and floor (9.850), tied for third place on the bars (9.825), and finished third in the all around (39.275).
Big Ten Gymnast of the Week Again
Laura Johnson was named the Big Ten Women’s Gymnast of the Week for the week of Feb. 15. Johnson took first place in every event, including the all around to lead No. 20 Minnesota to first place in the Best of Minnesota Meet.
Johnson won every individual event at the Best of Minnesota, earning scores of 9.825 on vault, 9.775 on bars, 9.700 on beam, and a season-best 9.900 on floor. She was also the all around champion, earning her best all around score of the season with a 39.200.
Big Ten Gymnast of the Week
Laura Johnson was named the Co-Big Ten Women’s Gymnast of the Week for the week of Jan. 30, sharing the honor with Michigan’s Jenny Deiley. Johnson took first place in three of four individual events, and the all around to lead No. 20 Minnesota to an upset win over then-No. 7 Penn State on Jan. 28.
Johnson won the vault with a mark of 9.850. On the bars, she finished first with a 9.775. Johnson also won the beam title, scoring a 9.825. Johnson has been Minnesota’s top all arounder at each meet this season, and won her second all around title of the season with a score of 39.100.
The Big Ten weekly award is the first of Johnson’s career.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior Maria Opsahl once again served as the team captain for the 2006 season after serving in the same capacity last year. She is the first two-year team captain during the Stephenson’s tenure at Minnesota.
Coaching the Gophers
Jim and Meg Stephenson completed their 14th season at the helm of the Golden Gopher program. Jim served as the head coach while Meg was an assistant until 1998, when Meg joined Jim as a co-head coach. Minnesota’s coaches have earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors four times during their tenure, and were honored with the Regional Coach of the Year award in 2002.
The duo has a 130-106-1 record as co-head coaches, while Jim has a 189-175-1 record in his tenure with the Golden Gophers.
Assistant coach Doug Day finished his ninth season with the program.