Gymnasts' closeness drew Mable to NCAA meet-bound Gophers

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 18, 2013 - 12:09 AM

The Gophers, led by freshman Lindsay Mable, will be competing as a team in the NCAA meet this weekend for the first time since 2002.

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Lindsay Mable can trace it all the way back to her first unofficial visit to the Gophers’ gym, when the Colorado native still was scouting out college gymnastics programs. She saw plenty of gifted individuals, which didn’t surprise her. But it was the way they behaved together that made Mable think she had stumbled onto something unique.

“There was a bond, a sisterhood,” Mable said. “You go to some schools, and the girls on the team aren’t even friends. They’re just together in the gym. But the way the girls here cared for each other, you knew it was special.”

So special, in fact, that Mable believed the Gophers could accomplish something they hadn’t done since 2002: qualify for the NCAA team championships. With a big boost from her spectacular freshman season, the Gophers finished second in the Gainesville, Fla., regional earlier this month to advance to the 12-team championships that begin Friday at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.

The Gophers (25-6) enter the meet ranked eighth in the nation, making the top 10 for the first time in 11 seasons. They went 6-1 in the Big Ten to tie Michigan for the first regular-season championship awarded by the conference. Mable became the first Gophers gymnast to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Year since Gena Palm in 1989. She was joined on the all-Big Ten first team by senior Shannon Golich from Illinois, and sophomore Kylie Schermann of Lakeville.

Like Mable, head coach Meg Stephenson — in her 20th season on the Gophers staff — also recognized an aura about this group. All of them paid their own expenses for summer school so they could begin training together sooner, building both their skills and their relationships. That dedication, Stephenson said, set the stage for one of the best seasons in program history.

“I said in the very beginning of the year that this is a special group,” said Stephenson, named the Big Ten and North Central Region Coach of the Year. “I had high expectations because of their great camaraderie, their work ethic and their chemistry.

“They have a really deep desire to be successful, to win Big Tens and get to nationals. That’s been a goal for years and years. But in this group, we could really see the fire and the commitment they were willing to put forth to make that happen.”

Stephenson said the Gophers have long cultivated the inclusiveness and supportive atmosphere that attracted Mable and allowed her to flourish. Mable was Big Ten co-champion on balance beam, and tied program records — and was second team All-America — in floor exercise (9.975) and all-around (39.600). At the regional, she was co-champion on vault with teammate Jenny Covers.

Given their talent, Stephenson expected Mable and fellow rookies Madie Hanley from Pennsylvania and Hanna Nordquist of Otsego to excel as freshmen. It helped, Mable said, that the upperclassmen welcomed them so warmly. Their assistance and friendship extended beyond the gym, and their bond led them to set a preseason goal of making the NCAA tournament.

In the past, Stephenson said, the Gophers have not always had the unshakable confidence necessary to win championships. A strong start this season gave them an early boost, and their well-balanced lineup proved remarkably consistent. In January, they upset top-ranked Michigan ► at the Sports Pavilion ◄ — the first time the Gophers had defeated a No. 1 team — and rolled to 197.225 points in a victory over No. 20 Ohio State last month, the second-highest score in program history.

“At the beginning of the season, we knew how good we could be,” Mable said. “I think it was kind of shocking to everyone else. When we started being successful, it was like, ‘Oh, let’s see if they can do it again.’ And we did. We proved ourselves.”

Immediately after making the NCAA tournament field, the Gophers set a new aim: to finish in the top three in their semifinal round Friday, which would put them into the Super Six competing for the team crown on Saturday. The top four individuals on each event in each of the two semifinals will advance to the event finals Sunday.

The gymnasts also are mindful of the bigger picture. Stephenson said that returning to the NCAA tournament is a huge milestone for the program, and Mable said she and her teammates view this season as a starting point rather than as an end in itself.

“We all believe with the culture and leadership we have, this is not a one-time thing,” Mable said. “Now that we’ve done it, we’re setting our sights on making it common.”

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    Wednesday April 17, 2013

    two gophers teams at National meetsNCAA WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS• Women’s meet: Friday-Sunday at Pauley Pavilion, Los Angeles. Team semifinals Friday; team...

  • Freshman Lindsay Mable practiced her routine on the balance beam in the Peik Hall gym Tuesday afternoon

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 14 2nd Qtr 14:56
Dallas 7
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Nashville
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 48 2nd Half 9:31
Georgetown 55
FIU 34 2nd Half 7:04
USC Upstate 50
Long Island 31 2nd Half 15:59
Stony Brook 45
San Diego 24 1st Half 3:02
Xavier 32
Illinois 4:00 PM
Indiana State
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Cal State Fullerton 5:00 PM
Wright State
Michigan State 5:30 PM
Rider
UCLA 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 7:30 PM
Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 58 2nd Half 3:13
Washington 70
Wichita State 30 2nd Half 4:36
Fla Gulf Coast 53
Wisconsin 18 2nd Half
(1) South Carolina 31
BYU 5:00 PM
BYU-Hawaii
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Montana
Illinois 5:00 PM
(9) Kentucky
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
Central Michigan 7:00 PM
Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
Princeton 7:30 PM
Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pm

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