The Minnesota Gophers started in the opening session of the Big Ten Championships reserves for the expected lowest finishing teams last Saturday. The Gophers decided they didn’t want to conform. Minnesota recorded a team score of 197.250— the highest of any of the six teams in the afternoon session that then held up as better than two of the teams in the evening session for a third place finish.
The Gophers started their day in the first rotation on the bars. Fifth-year senior Tiarre Sales led the way, as her score of 9.925 placed her in a tie for the second-best score in the first session.
Minnesota used their season high score on the beam to push them up the standings. Normally their worst event, the Gophers posted a score of 49.450 on the apparatus which was their highest score in any of the four events on the day. Minnesota got a pair of 9.900s from junior Emily Koch and sophomore Lauren Pearl to lead the way.
After a bye rotation the Gophers headed to the floor where their stars shined. Junior Mya Hooten earned a 9.950 with senior Halle Remlinger and junior Gianna Gerdes right behind with a pair of 9.900s.
Minnesota finished their day on the vault where once again their star shined the brightest. Hooten finished with a score of 9.925, leading all competitors in the first session. Gerdes would finish with an all-around score of 39.475 which would leave her in 6th place. Both Hooten’s vault and floor scores would hold up through the evening session as well and she would be crowned Big Ten co-event champions in both.
Last week prior to the Big Ten Championships the season end Big Ten awards were handed out. Minnesota had four gymnasts honored by the conference. Hooten and Gerdes were both named First Team All-Big Ten while Remlinger and 5th year senior Maddie Quarles were both named Second Team All-Big Ten.
On Monday the Gophers found out their postseason destiny. The Gophers were named as an at-large team to the NCAA Championships and they were assigned in the Denver Region. Minnesota will compete in the evening session in Denver along with #3 seeded Michigan, #14 seeded Denver and the winner of the first round between Arizona and North Carolina on March 31st. If the Gophers can upset one of the ranked teams and finish in the two two of their session they will advance to the Region Final on April 2 with the top two teams from the evening session meeting the top two teams from the afternoons session that includes #6 LSU, #11 Oregon State, Georgia and Nebraska. The top two teams from the Regional Final will advance to the NCAA Championships in Fort Worth in April.
Good luck to the Gophers in Denver.