By eight-tenths of a point, the Michigan women’s gymnastics team fell short of a win that could have significantly impacted its season.
Despite the Wolverines’ best efforts, they fell to No. 1 Oklahoma, 198.075-197.275, in Norman, Okla., on Friday.
Coming out of a dismal performance at the Utah tri-meet last week — where Michigan scored its lowest total of the season, 196.300 points — the Wolverines knew they had to do something different. Michigan was able to rally against the Sooners to score above 197.000 for just the third time this season.
Despite coming up short against Oklahoma, the highlights of the meet were abundant. Freshman Olivia Karas was the Wolverines’ headliner, tying for second in floor and vault. With a score of 9.950 in each event, she also managed to match her career-high scores for both events. Her high marks helped her tally an all-around score of 39.450, good enough to tie her for second overall that night.
“The sky is the limit for (Karas),” said Michigan coach Bev Plocki. “She is just a phenomenal talent, an aggressive competitor. She’s fun to watch, she’s dynamic — this is a kid that could win an all-around national championship as a freshman if she hits all four events at the right time on the right day.”
Karas wasn’t the only Wolverine dominating on the vault. Junior Talia Chiarelli scored a 9.900, securing her position at third. And with high scores coming from senior Austin Sheppard, sophomore Brianna Brown, junior Nicole and freshman Emma McLean, Michigan was able to seal a season-high score on vault with a 49.350.
The Wolverines continued with their impressive performance on floor, reinforcing their position as the third-ranked team in the nation, ending with a score of 49.500. Karas and Chiarelli both topped out the scores for Michigan with 9.950 each, marking a season-high for Chiarelli. Artz was the next Wolverine on the board, taking eighth with a 9.900.
Typically one of the highest scorers on the team in all events, Artz saw smaller scores at this meet than she has been accustomed to.
“Nicole has just had a rough go of things lately,” Plocki said. “When she was coming into her tap swing in her dismount, she smacked her toe into the bar, and not only is that a pretty big deduction, it also hurt like heck. She competed the rest of the meet with a pretty ouchy big toe. That kind of stuff could go a little bit more smoothly, but there’s still a lot of fight and determination in this team.”
With just two more meets before the Big Ten Championships, and NCAA Championships following closely behind, Michigan will need to clean up its minor mistakes and push through its setbacks if its going to propel itself to the top.