The No. 18 Gophers women’s gymnastics team will look for its third straight victory Saturday when it hosts Air Force at the Sports Pavilion.
The team is coming off a 194.45-191.4 come-from-behind road victory at Michigan State in which Minnesota gymnasts won three of the four team events.
“We were really excited about our performance at Michigan State,” head coach Meg Stephenson said. “A lot of people stepped up and did a good job, so I think we’ve developed some confidence going into this weekend.”
Freshman Kayla Slechta continued to stand out, winning the vault with a score of 9.875, and after a slow start to the season on the beam, senior Kristin Furukawa appeared to be back to her old form, taking first place with a score of 9.825.
Furukawa had knee surgery over the summer and as a result has dealt with some soreness this year, but Stephenson said the Pomona, Calif., native should be ready to go Saturday.
“When [gymnasts] get to be seniors they deal with a little bit of chronic stuff,” Stephenson said, “but they also are as tough as they’ve ever been so they learn how to manage it. They’re just really tough athletes and they do what they need to do to make sure they’re ready when competition rolls around.”
Kendra Elm won the all-around competition against the Spartans, competing in the event for the first time this season.
“[Elm is] a wonderful performer and it’s great to have her back in that position, especially her first time back doing such a great job,” Stephenson said, adding that if everything went according to plan, Elm would again compete in the all-around against Air Force.
On Saturday, the team will be without freshman Dusti Russell, one of the team’s top performers this season. Russell is out with an elbow injury, but Stephenson said she expects to see her back in “a couple of weeks.”
The last time the Gophers faced Air Force was in 2005 in a three-team meet at Nebraska, which the Cornhuskers won.
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