St. Paul Olympian Suni Lee, Gophers’ Lexy Ramler shine at NCAA Gymnastics Nationals

The No. 8 University of Minnesota gymnastics team competed in the NCAA Championships this afternoon and recorded its best finish in program history.

The Gophers finished with a 197.1125 to finish sixth overall, topping their previous best finish of eighth set in 2013 and 2021.

Minnesota competed in the first semifinal on Thursday with No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 4 Utah and No. 5 Alabama. The Gophers finished third in that group behind Oklahoma (198.1125) and Utah (197.7125), but ahead of Alabama (197.1000).

The top two teams – Oklahoma and Utah – advanced to the NCAA Finals on Saturday and will be joined by No. 2 Florida (197.9750) and No. 6 Auburn (197.8375) who advanced from the evening semifinal. No. 3 Michigan (196.2875) and No. 11 Missouri (197.2000) also competed in the second semifinal, but did not advance.

Minnesota’s Lexy Ramler celebrates after competing on the uneven bars during the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships, Thursday, April 14, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Minnesota qualified for the NCAA National Championships as a team for the sixth time ever. This marks the first time ever in school history that the Gophers qualified and competed in the NCAA Championships as a team in consecutive years. Minnesota finished sixth this year, which was its best performance ever at the NCAA Championships. The Gophers also earned a spot in the championship meet in 1997 (10th-place finish), 2002 (ninth), 2013 (eighth), 2016 (12th) and 2021 (eighth).

“We really did a great job,” said head coach Jenny Hansen. “We knew this meet would have a little bit tighter scoring and it was almost as good as we could have hoped for. They finished the meet so well, so we are really proud of that. We knew this was a team that could set a new record for our program, so we are really thrilled about that. Getting here is really difficult, but getting here two years in a row is even harder and I think that has given our team and our program a lot of confidence that we belong here. We know what it takes to get here and that is really important for us moving forward.”

Lexy Ramler and Ona Loper closed out their stellar Minnesota careers by competing in the all-around competition. Ramler led the Gophers with a 39.6125, which placed her second in her semifinal and sixth in the total standings. Ramler was tied for first on bars (9.9500) and beam (9.9375) at the end of the first semifinal. She also scored a 9.98875 on floor and 9.8375 on vault. Loper totaled a 39.3500, which was fifth-best in the morning semifinal and was the 16th-best score of the day. Loper’s best event was bars where she scored a 9.9000. She also recorded a 9.8875 on floor, 9.8375 on vault and a 9.7250 on beam.

Event Breakdown
Minnesota opened the competition on the beam and was led by its queen Lexy Ramler. The super senior led the Gophers with a 9.9375, which placed her tied for fourth in the competition. Abbie Nylin was second for the Gophers with a 9.8000, while Gianna Gerdes was third with a 9.7750. Ali Sonier scored a 9.7375 and Loper recorded a 9.7250. Emily Koch ended with a 9.6500. The Gophers totaled a 48.9750 as a team.

Mya Hooten once again led the Gophers on the floor with a dynamic 9.9500, as Minnesota posted a strong team score of 49.5000. That is the highest score Minnesota has had on the floor at the NCAA Championships. Hooten, who scored three perfect 10s this year on the floor, entered the competition ranked No. 2 in the nation on the floor and finished tied for fourth at NCAAs. Halle Remlinger was second for the Gophers with a 9.9000, while Loper and Ramler both scored a 9.8875. Gerdes notched a 9.8750 and Koch had a 9.8500.

The Gophers scored a 49.250 on the beam as were one again led by Hooten, who delivered a team-best 9.9000. A quartet of Gophers – Loper, Ramler, Koch and Maddie Quarles – all scored a 9.8375 and Gerdes had a 9.7750.

Minnesota closed the competition on the bars, allowing Ramler one final moment to shine. The most decorated gymnast in school history delivered with a stirring 9.9500 to finish tied for second as Minnesota posted a team score 49.3875. Loper and Hannah Willmarth followed with a pair of 9.9000s and Hooten provided a solid 9.8500. Rounding out the scoring for the Gophers was Remlinger with a 9.7875 and Tiarre Sales with a 9.2375. 


FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — This is why Sunisa Lee kept her promise and came to Auburn. And why Trinity Thomas endured at Florida.

To compete on the podium with their sport stopping to watch. To celebrate with their teammates under the lights. To earn a chance to have one more chance.

The two gymnastics stars checked every box during the NCAA women’s team semifinals on Thursday night.

Lee, the first Olympic champion to compete collegiately, helped send Auburn to the finals for just the second time since 1993 as the Tigers finished second to Florida in the second semifinal to qualify for Saturday’s final four.

Auburn’s Sunisa Lee competes on the balance beam during the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships Thursday, April 14, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Thomas claimed the all-around title, capping a showstopping performance with a perfect 10 on floor exercise as the Gators earned the right to join Lee and the Tigers as well as Oklahoma and Utah for a shot at a national championship.

“I feel absolutely amazing,” said Thomas, who finished with an all-around total of 39.8125, just ahead of Lee at 39.675 and Florida teammate Megan Skaggs at 39.6625. “I’ve been working through this ever since I got to school and just having a few setbacks, you know, I kept fighting. And to finally do it this time is literally a blessing.”

Even if Thomas didn’t initially know her 10 on floor — the 11th perfect score she’s collected this season, tops in the country — made her the fourth Gator to win the all-around in the last decade. She was so focused on making sure Florida made it to the team final she didn’t really pay attention to where she stood in the overall standings until the meet was over.

“(I asked my teammates) ‘do you know what the all-around was?’ And they were like, ‘No,’ and I was like, ‘Me neither,’” Thomas said with a laugh. “So, I had no clue, actually.”

Thomas eventually turned to fellow senior Savannah Schoenherr, the team’s resident calculator. When Schoenherr informed her longtime teammate it was probably her, Thomas let out a semi-surprised “oh.”

Consider it a testament to Thomas’ ability to stay in the moment.

An equipment issue when Florida was on the uneven bars forced Thomas to wait 10 long minutes while it was fixed. She passed the time by cracking jokes. When it was finally her turn to go, she delivered a 9.9750, the best of the night.

“I’m so glad it was Trinity that had to wait,” Florida coach Jenny Rowland said. “If it was going to be somebody, Trinity is great one to be able to shake it off and just go with the flow and step up and raise her game.”

The same goes for Lee.

Eight months ago she pulled off the meet of her life in Tokyo, becoming the fifth straight American woman to capture gold in the all-around. She didn’t let newfound fame distract her from going to Auburn, even if her celebrity created outsized expectations. The 19-year-old admitted to feeling jitters on Thursday before getting a pep talk from Olympic teammate Jordan Chiles, now competing for UCLA.

Chiles’ advice was simple: try to remember this is supposed to be fun.

“I think (after that) I really took the pressure off of myself and I just went out there and enjoyed it,” said Lee, who won the beam title in addition to finishing runner-up to Thomas in the all-around.

Lee joyfully ran to her teammates after her uneven bars routine served as the exclamation point that pushed Auburn to the finals.

Auburn’s Sunisa Lee raises her arms after competing in the vault during the NCAA women’s gymnastics championships Thursday, April 14, 2022, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Chiles wasn’t the only one handing out pep talks. Earlier in the day, Oklahoma reached the finals for the ninth straight time by posting a team score of 198.112, the best of the day. The statement came a day after receiving a pep talk from former Oklahoma star and current Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.

The Sooners chatted with Mayfield — who won the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma in 2017 — on Wednesday night, with Mayfield urging them to “feel dangerous” as the program tries to win its fourth title since 2016.

Oklahoma moved in front during the second rotation, using a stellar set on uneven bars to slip by the Utes into first. The set included a 9.887 from Olivia Trautman, competing in the event for the first time this season after being limited by a knee injury.

“(Mayfield) told us to just do our stuff and believe in ourselves,” Trautman said.

Utah reached the finals for the fourth time in five championships by finishing the meet with a rock-solid beam set. The Utes’ score of 49.600 was the highest in the event during the first semifinal, ending any hope of Alabama or Minnesota closing the gap.

Defending national champion Michigan’s bid for a repeat ended during the third rotation of the second session, where a wobbly set on uneven bars sent the Wolverines tumbling down the standings to fourth behind Florida, Auburn and Missouri.

The finals will feature familiar faces in Oklahoma, Florida and Utah. Lee’s arrival helped thrust the Tigers into heady company, which was the plan all along when she stuck with her commitment to compete for Auburn.

What happens next for Lee is unknown. She has made no secret of her desire to return to elite competition in preparation for the 2024 Olympics, a process that could start sooner rather than later, which could make her a gymnastics equivalent of “one and done.”

That decision won’t be made until after the season, a season that has one more meet to go.

“I’m really proud of us,” Lee said.

Material from the Associated Press and University of Minnesota Sports Information was used in this report