In its first meet ranked at the top of women’s college gymnastics, No. 1 Michigan had no problem proving it deserved the ranking.
The Wolverines (1-0 Big Ten, 4-0 overall), who hosted their second annual Autism Awareness Meet on Saturday, beat Ohio State (0-1, 1-1) handily, 196.950-195.275. Michigan has lost just once to the Buckeyes in its last 48 meetings.
Freshman Olivia Karas headed the Wolverines’ dominant performance with a score of 39.425 and her first all-around victory as a collegiate gymnast. Karas also claimed the best score on the vault, 9.875, and scored no lower than 9.825 in any event.
“We put in a lot of hard work this week, and I think it really showed,” Karas said. “It’s great to win all-around, but our team won and that’s the bottom line. We put out a great performance.”
Junior captain Nicole Artz continued her fantastic season, winning the floor exercise with a score of 9.900. That, alongside stellar performances in her other events, gave her a score of 39.375, putting her right behind Karas for the best all-around score.
But Karas and Artz weren’t the only ones who shined for Michigan.
Senior captain Briley Casanova had a career day, tying career highs of 9.825 and 9.850 on the bars and vault, respectively. Freshman Emma McLean tied her career high for the vault with a 9.775.
Junior captain Talia Chiarelli received the honor of Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week for the third week in a row. She posted the highest score in any event for the meet, earning a 9.950 on the beam.
In all four events, the Wolverines earned more than 49 total points out of a possible 50.
Michigan coach Bev Plocki believes the Wolverines’ success is a result of the team becoming more comfortable and confident with each meet.
Artz agreed, adding that being ranked first in the country is no surprise to her.
“We know that we are where we belong, and that we are No. 1,” Artz said. “To finally have that recognition is awesome.”
Added Karas: “I think this is (a championship team). Everyone on this team has what it takes to contribute, and we’re definitely going to be contenders for nationals this year.”
Plocki also thinks that Wolverines can win a championship. When asked if Michigan is a national contender, Plocki answered without hesitation.
“Absolutely,” she said. “I say that with absolutely no reservation at all. This team has shown so much resiliency and grit. This is going to be a team that will be able to go all the way for sure.”