There was magic in the air.
The Crisler Center was full of magic Sunday, in part to the “enchanted” theme during the No. 10 Michigan women’s gymnastics team’s (4-0 Big Ten, 8-2 overall) meet against Iowa (1-3 Big Ten, 2-5 overall), but also in part to the dazzling performance and heroic efforts of the Wolverines.
Along with the Disney sing-a-longs and dance contests, there were plenty of impressive flips and feats to entertain the crowd.
Michigan defeated Iowa with a season-high score of 197.350 to 195.350. Michigan was led by freshman Natalie Wojcik, who earned her fifth all-around with a 39.550, followed by senior Olivia Karas with a score of 39.250.
The meet began with the Wolverines at vault and the Hawkeyes on bars. Freshman Abby Brenner posted the highest score of the meet with a 9.850. Wojcik and sophomore Anne Maxim were right there too with a 9.825 and 9.800, respectively. Karas and junior Maddy Osman rounded out the scoring with a 9.775 and a 9.750, respectively, bringing the Wolverines to a 49.000 to 48.950 lead.
The second event saw the two teams switch events. Michigan excelled at the uneven bars, posting two scores at 9.950, from Karas and Wojcik. There were also high scores of 9.875 from both freshman Maddie Mariani and Brenner in addition to a 9.850 from sophomore Lauren Farley. At the end of the second event, the Wolverines had extended their lead to make it 98.500 to 97.775.
Leaving the bars and the vault behind, the third event saw Michigan on the balance beam and Iowa on the floor exercise. Junior Lexi Funk shined on the beam, posting the meet-high score of 9.950. Wojcik and Farley weren’t far behind with scores of 9.925 and 9.900, respectively, and Osman and Karas each earned a score of 9.825 to round out the scoring for the beam.
Coming into the fourth and final event, chants of “Let’s Go Blue” could be heard from the crowd. Now up 147.975 to 146.875, the Wolverines encouraged the crowd to cheer more and joined in on the chants themselves. Coach Bev Plocki noted how important crowd energy is to Michigan.
“It’s been great this year, it really has been,” Plocki said. “I always want more, but I’ve been happy with our crowds and the event staff has been doing a great job of getting them involved in what’s going on and the energy has been great.”
Not only did the crowd bring energy, but the Michigan squad brought some energy themselves. Before the floor exercise began, the Wolverines huddled up to get amped and prepared for the final event.
“We just kind of remind ourselves to have fun and enjoy it,” Wojcik said. “Just go out there and be confident.”
With Michigan amped up, the team began the floor exercise. Karas finished for the Wolverines and posted the highest score of the meet with a 9.925. Senior Emma McLean, coming back from a shoulder injury, earned an impressive 9.900. Brenner, Wojcik and Osman had scores of 9.875, 9.850 and 9.825, respectively.