Betsy Helfand


No sophomore slump for Gophers’ star

As a freshman, Jose Mendez tied for the individual crown at last year’s Big Ten championships. This season, Mendez has picked up right where he left off, as he’s finished in the top 10 of his first two tournaments. Mendez said he took some time off from competing in tournaments after a hectic freshman year. “I just [took] the summer because our last season was really a lot of time. It was a lot of stress, so I just took a little [time] off,” Mendez said. And the break has seemed to work out well for him.

Young team struggles at tournament

The Gophers finished 13th out of 15 teams at the Windon Memorial, and head coach John Carlson didn’t sugarcoat the performance afterward. “I’m pretty disappointed in the way that our team ended up performing this week,” he said. Senior Tyler Lowenstein and sophomore Daniel Luftspring tied for 59th in the tournament at 12-over par, and sophomore Matt Rachey and freshman Rúnar Arnórsson finished behind them. Some of the team members’ lack of experience played a part in the tournament’s results, Carlson said.

Minnesota adds alumnus to staff

A huge weight was lifted off head coach John Carlson’s shoulders this week as he officially filled a position on the team’s staff. Nearly a month ago, former assistant coach Tyler Stith left Minnesota and accepted the position as head coach at the University of Iowa. After receiving 25 to 30 applicants, Carlson selected Stith’s replacement, announcing the hiring of Gophers alumnus Justin Smith on Monday. “It was always an aspiration for me to hopefully give back to the program that provided me with so much,” Smith said.

Laorr leads Gophers in first tourney

The Gophers finished seventh overall at the season-opening Minnesota Invitational. However, with one lineup change, the team would have experienced very different results. “Had we had Sabrine in our lineup, we would have finished second,” head coach Michele Redman said. Freshman Sabrine Garrison, who competed in the tournament as an individual, finished tied for third overall. Garrison finished second among Minnesota competitors, and her inclusion in the lineup would have placed the team behind first-place East Carolina.

Gophers kick off new season at Minnesota Invitational

The Gophers wrapped up last season as one of the most successful teams in program history. They’ll try to build off that on Monday as they begin their 2014-15 campaign with many of last year’s key golfers and several fresh faces. “I think we definitely have good momentum. I think we know what it takes to get to where we want to be, so we know how much time we have to put in and we know what worked from last year and what didn’t,” senior Anna Laorr said.

Top forward out for season after concussion

When the Gophers women’s hockey team begins its season in less than a month, it will be without its star forward for the second year in a row. Head coach Brad Frost announced Wednesday that Amanda Kessel, who redshirted last season to compete in the Olympics, will miss the upcoming season due to lingering concussion issues. Frost said it was his understanding that Kessel had suffered her injury before she played in the Olympics.

Minnesota places fourth at first tournament

Jose Mendez placed first among his teammates in Minnesota’s final five tournaments last season. And on Sunday and Monday, Mendez picked up right where he left off — the sophomore led his team to a fourth-place finish in the Gopher Invitational. “Our leader on the golf course came to play,” head coach John Carlson said. Minnesota finished behind Baylor, California and Charlotte at 31-over par. Junior Jon DuToit said the team didn’t finish as strong as it would have liked, but it can only build moving forward.

Youthful team set to begin

When Jon Trasamar graduated, the Gophers didn’t just lose one of their best golfers — they also lost their captain. Minnesota will open up its fall slate at the Gopher Invitational with just two upperclassmen on its roster, allowing the opportunity for new leaders to step up. Tyler Lowenstein is the team’s only senior, and Jon DuToit is the lone junior. “I think over the course of the year, we’re going to see [Lowenstein] move into a leadership role and hopefully take Jon DuToit with him in that role,” head coach John Carlson said.

Head women's gymnastics coach resigns

Head women’s gymnastics coach Meg Stephenson has resigned, the University of Minnesota announced in a release Thursday afternoon. The resignation comes after two University-conducted investigations into “student and employee complaints about the program,” according to the release.

Coaches keep busy in summer

Joel Johnson and Nadine Muzerall are used to sharing the same bench as coaches for the Gophers women’s hockey team. This month, however, country loyalties have pitted the two on opposite sides. Muzerall, a Gophers assistant coach and Ontario native, was recently named an assistant coach for Canada’s national women’s under-18 team selection camp. And in May, Johnson, an associate head coach, was named the U.S. women’s national under-18 team’s head coach.