At the Michigan women’s gymnastics team’s quad meet at Ohio State on Saturday, senior Nicole Artz didn’t have the smoothest warmup before her floor exercise.
Her routine, on the other hand, was nearly flawless.
Artz posted a score of 9.950, the highest score of the entire meet, to help the 11th-ranked Wolverines notch a second-place finish. While the Wolverines outscored Kent State and Washington — the other two participants in the quad meet — they were narrowly edged out by the host Buckeyes by a score of 195.800-195.725.
Michigan improved its score from its first performance last week at Utah, but the team was hurt by inconsistency, something that coach Bev Plocki described as typical of a fairly young squad.
“Even the upperclassmen get thrown off a little bit,” Plocki said. “Even though it’s individual performances, you still have to be able to have confidence in all of your teammates. If you don’t have that confidence, it puts more individual pressure on everybody.”
While the Wolverines are still in the process of jelling as a team, they had their share of highlights — especially on floor, where the team possessed four of the top five performers. Sophomore Olivia Karas scored a 9.850, and then provided a spark of energy after her routine by forming a block ‘M’ with her hands and displaying it to the Buckeye faithful. Senior Talia Chiarelli performed next and recorded a 9.875 before Artz outdid them both.
Michigan’s final exercise, the vault, also proved fruitful results. Karas stuck a perfect landing to earn a 9.900, tying for the highest score in that event, while sophomore Emma McLean was right behind with a score of 9.825.
Other highlight performers included junior Paige Zaziski and freshman Polina Shchennikova, both of whom recorded scores of 9.825 to tie for third on bars. And Chiarelli and junior Lauren Marinez put up identical scores of 9.825 to lead the Wolverines on beam.
“The judges scored (Marinez) a little more strictly than I thought,” Plocki said. “I thought she had a gorgeous beam routine.”
Picked to win the Big Ten before the season, Michigan has shown flashes of its potential at times, but has experienced both highs and lows through its first two meets. With more time and experience, the Wolverines believe that they can increase the consistency of these highlights.
“Once you get a few (meets) under your belt and you do it every weekend, you get more into the swing of things and it gets easier,” Karas said.
Added Plocki: “I believe in the fact that we’re going to keep working really hard from week to week, and we’re going to build that confidence in each other. We’re going to build that consistency. When we need to be ready to go, I’m confident that we’ll be there.”