A year ago, the Michigan women’s gymnastics team — which would go on to become national champions — came up short at the Big Ten Championship meet.
Minnesota finished on top with 197.750 points to break the Wolverines’ six season win streak as Big Ten Champions. Michigan finished as the runner-up with 197.425 points, just shy of the 2021 title. While the Wolverines redeemed themselves merely four weeks later at the Division I NCAA Championship meet by winning their first ever national title, allowing the Big Ten Championship to slip away still haunts them.
“I’m really excited we’re focused on the postseason,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “But last year, we didn’t have our best meet (at the Big Ten Championship).”
As the Wolverines enter the postseason eager to defend their national title, last season’s pitfalls cannot be forgotten. So far, Michigan has been nearly perfect, posting a 12-1 overall record. Undefeated in all regular season Big Ten meets, the Wolverines have positioned themselves nicely for redemption.
Michigan was awarded the regular season Big Ten trophy last Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd. The electric atmosphere mirrored that of a championship meet, and the Wolverines’ enthusiasm should expand beyond the Senior Night meet and into the postseason.
“We never have a hard time getting amped for the Big Ten Championship,” Plocki said.
But last season, that excitement was not enough. Coming off of the 2020 postseason cancellation due to COVID-19, only half of Michigan’s gymnasts had ever competed in a collegiate championship meet before last season.
This inexperience contributed to Michigan’s downfall. The elite competition that is widely present at the Big Ten Championship meet rattled the underclassman Wolverines, and the shock was sufficient enough to expose their weaknesses and cost points.
“It was my fault as a coach and a leader,” Plocki said. “I put that on myself.”
Michigan is adamant that it will not repeat its mistakes. Plocki has made sure that the freshmen are up to the challenge of the meet. The rest of the team remembers the 2021 Big Ten Championship all too well.
“We weren’t as prepared mentally and emotionally as we should have been,” Plocki said. “This year, we are.”
All will be settled on Saturday in Columbus, where the Wolverines will fight to begin another streak as Big Ten champions.