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Inexperienced gymnasts experience baptism of fire

By Peter Riedy, For the Daily
Published January 29, 2012

With junior Natalie Beilstein sidelined for the remainder of the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, the young and inexperienced Michigan women’s gymnastics team needed to step up and answer the call. Friday night against Illinois, freshman Annette Miele delivered when the team needed her most.

Miele came into Friday night with one mission: excel on the uneven bars. She blossomed with a stellar 9.850 score in the event, tying for second place in the event. Miele said she did not feel any pressure to perform for her team.

“It definitely helped that I exhibitioned the last two meets, but it was really fun,” Miele said. “I felt really ready. I practiced all my routines a lot.”

Michigan coach Bev Plocki was quite impressed with Miele and has visions of greatness for her.

“Annette is going to be our go-to person on floor as soon as we can get her ready,” Plocki said.

Perhaps inspired by her freshman teammate's performance, sophomore Reema Zakharia followed suit, rebounding well after a shaky beam routine to tie for first place on the floor routine with a score of 9.900.

“It’s what you’re supposed to do every time, and that’s to hit a routine every time,” Zakharia said. “I’m going to do what I always do and that’s to have a really good floor routine,”

But all was not well with the Wolverines on Friday night, as sophomore Kristin Nagle failed to finish her floor routine in her first competition of her collegiate career due to a lower body injury — a difficult way to end a night where the Wolverines clinched a narrow home victory.

With no seniors on the team, the freshmen and sophomore gymnasts will experience a baptism of fire as they are thrown into competition with little or no prior experience.

“We got to get mentally tougher, if we want to have success this season … it’s mental,” Plocki said.


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