It didn’t take long for sophomore Olivia Karas to reach the vault. Sprinting full speed down the runway, she made contact with the springboard, flipping and soaring through the air. Somehow, through all of that, she managed to stick her landing cleanly.
As Crisler Center erupted in cheers, the team chased her down the mat and embraced her. They didn’t need to see the score to know Karas had executed the move spectacularly.
Team chemistry is clearly an important aspect of the Michigan women’s gymnastics team. After every event, the entire team congratulates their competing teammate with hugs and cheers.
“When one person is up there and you’re not, you have to have full trust and faith that they’re going to do everything they can do for you,” Karas said. “So you celebrate because they did the best possible thing for you.
“The best thing in the world is sticking the dismount and having your team come run up at you. It’s an indescribable feeling.”
Karas scored a 9.975, her career high on the vault, which was enough to secure her a first-place finish in the event. One contributing factor to her success in the event was her dismount, which the team has been focusing on in recent practices with assistant coach Dave Kuzara.
“Dave has done a really great job of getting everyone in the right mindset to minimize deductions and try your best to stick,” Karas said. “We’ve been working on it so much and it’s really nice to see all that hard work pay off.”
Her new career-high topped the 9.950 she scored back in March of last year at the Big Five Tournament.
Michigan coach Bev Plocki acknowledged both her difficult routine and flawless execution.
“Her vault is a one and a half, it’s a harder vault than the fulls, and to stick the landing like that is like the exclamation point,” Plocki said.
Along with her exemplary performance on the vault, Karas was also part of a three-way tie for first place on the floor. She scored a 9.900, as did two of her teammates, senior Nicole Artz and sophomore Emma McLean.
A personal favorite for Karas, the floor provides a platform for gymnasts to showcase a diverse range of skills.
“I’m very animated when I do gymnastics, I like to get my team and the crowd involved in it,” Karas said. “Of course I like to tumble and stuff but the dancing is so fun.”
Following her, the team emerged victorious with a score of 197.225 to Nebraska’s 194.880.