Junior Lauren Marinez stood calmly at the edge of the mat. As music started pounding through the speakers at Crisler Center, she danced and executed complicated flips with athleticism and grace. Her team stood on the sidelines, mimicking her dance moves while she performed.
At the end of her routine, she struck her final pose and the crowd erupted in cheers. Marinez quickly ran off the floor and into the embrace of her teammates. She earned a score of 9.800.
Though she’s a junior, Marinez had never competed on the floor before Friday against North Carolina State. After sitting out her freshman year due to injury, Marinez competed solely on the beam for the 2016 season. She made her college debut and secured her first event titles for the event last season.
Marinez added the uneven bars to her routine this season and scored her career high against Illinois in January. She has added two events, floor and uneven bars, to her repetoire in this season alone.
“It was super exciting,” Marinez said. “I definitely couldn’t have done it without my teammates supporting me, and it was just nice to get out there after working so hard in the gym.”
Though she had done exhibitions on the floor before, this was her competition debut. Marinez had been putting in lots of work in the gym in preparation for the meet on Friday.
“Just numbers and training super hard, focusing on the details and building up that confidence so when it’s time to shine, it all goes good,” Marinez said.
She has been just as successful in her other events this season as well. In January, she was the Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week and she has had two individual event wins this season.
Marinez performs best on the beam, though, where she is ranked 11th nationally. On Friday, Marinez scored a 9.900 on the beam and tied her career high score.
“It’s a different focus, I guess. It’s not so much energy, it’s more like calming down your nerves,” Marinez said. “I think I like the idea of having to remain calm when I’m super excited. But just numbers again and focusing on the little things.”
The difference in these two events is very noticeable, as the energy changes drastically within the arena for each event. The songs chosen for the beam are often slower and more calm, while on the floor, however, the songs are upbeat and loud, and the gymnasts often create their own mixes. The crowd actively participates with their “cue the crowd” feature, where each gymnast chooses one part of their routine for the crowd to replicate.
“It was super exciting,” Marinez said. “I think when we’re home our energy level is definitely different, we’re more all over the place. I think we were just really tuned in today and did a really good job.”