Known for her bubbly personality and energetic floor routines, junior team captain Nicole Artz was expected to make a splash at the Michigan women’s gymnastics tri-meet.
She didn’t fail to deliver.
With Michigan facing Eastern Michigan and Maryland, Artz’s biggest competition came from fellow Wolverines — junior Talia Chiarelli, freshman Olivia Karas and sophomore Brianna Brown. Despite the strong competition from her teammates, Artz maintained her position as a constant threat. On the floor exercise, she took first place with a 9.925.
Artz has a reputation for the consistency in her dismounts, and she reinforced this reputation in almost every event. She stuck landings throughout her entire floor routine, as well as on the bars and beam. She took a minor step back when landing her vault, which put her at a tie for eighth place with Eastern Michigan’s Kimberly Ebeyer with a score of 9.800.
“I just like to take it one thing at a time. You can’t get ahead of yourself,” Artz said. “If something does mess up, you can’t dwell on it, you just have to move on. So it’s just staying in the moment and focusing on what you did in practice.”
Despite the lower ranking in vault, which was the first event of the day, Artz was able to make a comeback and outscore her opponents with her 9.925 on floor and a 9.900 on the uneven bars, where she tied for third. She also snagged second on the beam with a score of 9.925, a season high.
These high scores led to another all-around first-place result for Artz, who ended the meet with an overall score of 39.550. With a previous best all-around of 39.525, Artz earned another season best. It was also Artz’s 20th score above 39.000 in her career — the 12th-most in Michigan history.
“She is a great leader on our team,” said Michigan coach Bev Plocki, “because she really does demonstrate that work ethic, and the desire to win, and the competitiveness and those things that make her great.”
Artz’s high scores and flooring routines rarely go unnoticed — she was named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week on Tuesday, her third time gaining recognition for her dominant performances in every event. She is also on the Big Ten Gymnasts to Watch list.
“She is driven, both gymnastically and academically,” Plocki said. “In everything she does, she is driven, but she doesn’t take herself too seriously either. It’s kind of a good mix, because sometimes if you’re too much of a perfectionist, you’re too hard on yourself.
“She’s a really good mix of she’s got that drive and desire to want to be perfect, which means she works really hard, but she doesn’t take herself too seriously. She knows how to enjoy a moment and sometimes even be silly.”
As the gymnastics season begins to draw close to an end, Artz is a big contender heading into the NCAA Championships. Her reputation on floor and in the all-around, combined with her recent success on bars and beam, put her in a good position to dominate the podium at a national level.