In gymnastics, a poor showing in only one event can dramatically alter the final result of the meet. No matter how well a team performs in the rest of the contest, it must maintain its consistency throughout to get the victory.

After stellar performances in vault, uneven bars and floor, the No. 3 Michigan women’s gymnastics team failed to maintain its lead in the beam event, losing to No. 17 Nebraska (3-0-0 Big Ten, 5-0-0 overall), 196.775-196.550.

“Part of what we have to do is learn how to finish meets,” said Wolverines assistant coach Dave Kuzara. “(Whether) we finish on beam or finish on another event, we didn’t finish as strong as we normally had.”

Friday night was just the second time this season that Michigan (2-0-1, 5-0-1) has finished on beam. While at home, the Wolverines end with floor, with its glamorous dance and acrobatic moves to make the end of the meet seem like a grand finale. At Nebraska, Michigan was not afforded that luxury.  

While the Wolverines lost the meet, many individuals achieved top scores and attained career highs.

Continuing on her impressive season, freshman Olivia Karas won the all-around title in Friday’s meet and tied for first in vault. She also tied her career high in floor with a score of 9.950.

Other bright spots for the Wolverines included senior Austin Sheppard, who set her season high in uneven bars. Freshman Emma McLean attained a 9.875 on floor, the best of her young career, while junior Nicole Artz led the entire meet with a 9.975 in floor to set her career high.

When asked which players stood out in Friday’s meet, Kuzara mentioned Karas’s great season and also offered praise to other young athletes.

“It would be silly not to mention Olivia,” Kuzara said.  “Week in and week out, (she is) really doing a great job. (Sophomore) Brianna Brown competed in the all-around in full, and with all of her skills, (she) did a great job. Emma McLean put together two good events competing in the lineup spots.”

The loss marked the first time this season Michigan has scored under a 49 in an event, a core factor behind the Wolverines’ first loss this season. Its season average in beam prior to the meet was a solid 49.225.

Kuzara explained that some mishaps on the beam caused the team to receive a lower score.

“We had a few bobbles,” Kuzara said. “Obviously, we want to perform to the best of our ability, and we fell short of that, but it’s time to start thinking about the next competition.”

Though Michigan suffered its first defeat of the season, it will take many lessons from this meet and use them in practices to prepare for its next competition in two weeks.

“Every meet, you get a little bit more feedback from the judges,” Kuzara said. “Sometimes you really take that information and really work on the finer points with what we’re doing.”

As the first half of the season draws to a close, Michigan no longer sits at the top of the Big Ten standings. In addition, its ranking will drop because of its performance Friday night.

Yet, Kuzara remains optimistic and believes the loss will motivate the team.

“When you have a little bit of a hiccup, it tends to refocus everybody,” Kuzara said. “This is a great team, a great group of women. We’ll get back in the gym, and we’ll work real hard.” 

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