The music was blasting in the Crisler Center moments before the final rotation began. Senior Abby Brenner and sophomore Naomi Morrison stood in front of the Michigan student section, hyping them up as the Wolverines took the floor. The efforts from the two gymnasts, the rest of the team and the crowd managed to spark a wave cheer around the arena.
“I thought that (the team’s) energy was awesome,” Michigan women’s gymnastics coach Bev Plocki said. “And they get a lot of it from this incredible crowd. I cannot thank the student section enough for coming out, and I hope that they keep inviting even more friends because the energy we get from the crowd is amazing.”
The energy from the team and the crowd was present throughout the meet, and carried the Wolverines (4-0 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) to a dominant 197.925 – 196.775 win over rival Michigan State (4-2, 0-2).
Michigan’s start on vault had only one stuck landing; it was delivered by junior Sierra Brooks, scoring a 9.975 on her high flying yurchenko one and a half. However, the Wolverines still scored a 49.425 on the event, securing a 0.350 point lead over the Spartans after the first rotation.
“I think it’s super important to stick vaults,” Brooks said. “Vault is one of our strengths as a team, but when we start to struggle… it just gets the ball rolling here in Crisler.”
Michigan’s lead over Michigan State grew to 0.850 points after the Wolverines bars rotation, its best of the season thus far with a 49.550. Senior Abby Heiskell led off the event with a stuck double tuck dismount, and was followed by four more stuck dismounts. Brooks highlighted the rotation once again, who tied her career high with a 9.950.
The team moved to beam, which was once again Michigan’s lowest-scoring event, although it remained a strong performance. Junior Gabby Wilson and senior Natalie Wojcik shared 9.900s, with Wojcik’s near perfect performance only marred by a small hop on her one and a half twisting dismount.
“As a whole this season, beam has been our weakest event,” Brooks said. “Not bad by any means, but I think we’ve all hit better routines in the gym than we have (in competition) so far.”
Meanwhile, Michigan State’s performance on floor closed the Wolverines’ lead slightly, making it only 0.800 points.
Entering the final rotation, Michigan had the energy it needed to tackle the floor event with the involvement from the crowd. Wojcik, Brooks and Wilson shared the floor title with 9.950s. Wilson was in the anchor position, causing a closing eruption from the fans as she landed her perfect last pass.
The Spartans were solid on beam, but couldn’t do enough to close the lead, as the Wolverines won the meet by over a point in its season-high floor performance.
“We don’t really have a defensive strategy in gymnastics, it’s really more of a mentality,” Plocki said. “We want to make sure that we are at our peak game regardless of who we’re competing against.”