As the No. 3 Michigan women’s gymnastics team matched up against No. 5 Auburn and West Virginia in its final meet of the regular season, the Wolverines needed their seniors to step up.
On Senior Day, Abby Brenner, Abby Heiskell and Natalie Wojcik made the most of their last hurrah at Crisler Center.
And in front of a sold out 12,707-person crowd — an electric atmosphere — the constant presence and tenacious leadership from those three seniors played a substantial role in the win.
“They’re just everything,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “It’s such a bittersweet thing and we get so excited for them and hype up the whole week leading into it.”
Wojcik, in particular, made her impact early on the vault, where she earned a 9.850 — her only score under 9.900 in the meet. As impressive as she was to open the meet, it was just a glimpse of what she would go on to do.
Her score of 9.925 on the uneven bars helped Michigan take its first lead of the day. The significance Wojcik — along with senior teammates Brenner and Heiskell — have on this squad is immense.
“We’ve been working really hard on keeping our voices loud, giving all our teammates energy,” Wojcik said.
In her last performance on beam, Wojcik earned a score of 9.950 and a share of the meet beam title. In a difficult routine, Wojcik stuck all of her landings, putting her skill and experience on full display.
The highlight of the day — for Wojcik and the rest of this Wolverines squad — was the floor exercise. The rotation began with the three seniors setting the tone for the event, each senior earning a 9.900 or higher.
“What they’re there for is to come out of the gate and set that standard and hopefully the scores build from there,” Plocki said. “They’re such an experienced group of seniors and they bring so much leadership to this team.”
And that’s exactly what Wojcik and the seniors did on Saturday.
Brenner, who had an injury-riddled junior year and made a comeback at the 2021 National Championship, made the most of her last time in Crisler Center. As she hugged all of her teammates and coaches after completing the routine, her joy amplified as she saw her 9.925 score.
Heiskell followed and maintained the momentum that Brenner brought, earning her highest score of the day, a 9.900.
Wojcik, the final senior to perform on the floor, capped off her impressive day with a near-perfect performance, earning a 9.975. With every landing the crowd erupted, culminating in a crescendo when she finished.
“(Wojcik’s) work ethic and her passion for the sport of gymnastics is amazing,” Plocki said. “That’s what I want all my athletes to have … because if they have that there is no amount of work that’s too hard, no amount of commitment that’s too much.”
Thanks to her excellent performances in the final three events, Wojcik recorded her 100th career score of 9.900 or higher, and her 39.700 overall earned her the all-around title for the meet — the 22nd in her career.
“It makes me emotional to think about,” Wojcik said. “I’m really proud of it.”
Wojcik, the record holder for all-around scores, will go down in history as one of the greatest Michigan gymnasts ever. And in her final opportunity — in front of a record-breaking crowd — she once again delivered greatness.