Gabby Wilson lined herself up at the edge of the floor. After a brief running start, the junior leapt, twisting and turning her body through the air as the crowd watched in awe. Wilson adjusted herself one last time and stuck the landing, throwing her head back with pride to complete a routine that earned a score of 9.950 out of 10.000.
Wilson’s near-perfect floor routine capped off the No. 1 Michigan women’s gymnastics team’s (2-0 overall) victory in Saturday’s meet over Arizona State (0-1), 197.950 – 196.275. The Wolverines, led by senior Natalie Wojcik, earned all four team event titles as well as every individual title.
“Hitting 198 was our goal by midseason,” Wojcik said. “To get so close pretty much right out of the gates is so exciting.”
Added Michigan coach Bev Plocki: “I think that it says we’re right on track for what we want to be doing and what our capability is.”
For the second meet in a row, the Wolverines got off to a fast start in the vault event. Though sophomore Reyna Guggino struggled slightly in the leadoff position, wobbling on her landing before ultimately falling back two steps, her teammates quickly picked up her slack. Wojcik dazzled with an almost flawless vault routine, earning a 9.975. Sophomore Naomi Morrison added an identical 9.975 of her own, and Wilson chipped in with a 9.950. The result was a total score of 49.625, topping their nation-leading vault score from a week prior.
“It just sets the tone when you can get a bunch of sticks in there (on vault),” Plocki said. “It just raises the juices and the adrenaline for the rest of the meet.”
Michigan continued its impressive performance on the bars, highlighted by another stellar performance for Wojcik, who recorded a 9.975 and picked up her second individual event title on the day. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils struggled to match the Wolverines’ vault score, giving them a 99.025 – 98.300 advantage after two rotations.
Michigan’s third rotation, though, did not begin as smoothly as the first two.
Guggino once again struggled in the leadoff spot, turning in a routine filled with wobbles and off-balance landings. Wilson followed her up with a large error of her own, falling off the beam entirely during her routine and instantly putting the Wolverines in position for a low score in the event. But the back half of the lineup rallied, recovering enough to score a 49.225, which Wojcik accentuated with a 9.975 score and her third event title.
“When you have a wobbly first routine and then a fall, it’s really easy to panic,” Plocki said. “It’s a sign of a really strong team that has a lot of confidence in each other to not let those things bother them and pick itself up.”
Leading by a full point with just one rotation left, Michigan could have gotten complacent in the floor exercise event. But the Wolverines were not satisfied, performing routine after terrific routine and attaining a 49.700 total score. By the time Wilson completed her anchor performance, the top five floor scores, and the overall meet victory, belonged to Michigan.
But even though the defending national champs came away with the win, Plocki had bigger goals in mind:
“Unless every score is a 10, there’s always something to improve.”