Nicoletta Koulos lays on her back on the beam, her torso hanging upside down over the edge of the beam with her hands out to her sides. The crowd at Crisler Center is in the background.
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A former walk-on, Nicoletta Koulos has been patiently waiting for her time in the spotlight. Exhibition after exhibition, meet after meet, the senior has been putting in the work to be great.

And now, she’s shining.

In Friday night’s meet, Koulos was a key contributor to the Michigan women’s gymnastics team’s win over Minnesota. She secured personal best scores on both beam and floor, 9.925 and 9.950 respectively.

As a freshman, Koulos regularly competed in exhibitions to continue fine tuning her skills and routines. Now a senior, she has solidified her spot in the lineup and further developed her confidence as an athlete.

“I feel like in all of the exhibition spots I didn’t have as much confidence when I was exhibitioning,” Koulos said. “It was more like, ‘oh let’s hope I make it,’ and now it’s like ‘how perfect can I make it,’ so that’s where I kind of switched my mindset.”

Koulos has aided the Wolverines as a consistent performer throughout the season, posting averages of 9.819 on beam and 9.770 on floor. In the past three competitions, she scored three 9.925s, helping Michigan win the floor title in all three meets. On Friday, her exceptional performances boosted the Wolverines over the top.

“I’ve been really consistent in the gym, and that’s what’s brought me to being stable,” Koulos said. “I got a 9.925, 9.925, 9.925, and then last week I actually fell on floor and did not have my best week but this week I wanted to get back on that good mojo.”

In the first half of the meet, Michigan trailed behind the Golden Gophers. However, with Koulos in the lineup, the Wolverines turned it around. Koulos began the night on beam and came out strong with sharp lines, confidently nailing her first series. She finished with a clean dismount en-route to her career best 9.925. 

“I finally nailed all of my skills on the beam and (assistant coach) Maile’ana (Kanewa-Hermelyn) has been working a lot with me on just being confident, aggressive, and owning the beam,” Koulos said.

Gleaming with confidence, Koulos entered the final rotation ready to give another record-breaking performance. After sticking her first tumbling pass and finishing with a double pike spirited routine, she did just that. Her spirited and well-executed floor routine earned her another career-best and a score nearly two-tenths higher than her season average.

Michigan coach Bev Plocki applauded Koulos’ overall growth and her record performance. 

“She struggled a little bit her freshman year, has gotten better and better, she’s probably in the best shape of her life, and she’s a captain and a leader,” Plocki said. “Everything is coming together for her and really proud of what she’s been able to do and really excited to see her go out and score her personal best tonight was awesome.”

As Koulos progresses through her final season, she’ll be instrumental as the Wolverines gear up to face more difficult competition in the weeks to come.

And hopefully for Michigan, she’ll keep shining.