Four different gymnasts claimed first-place honors at the Michigan women’s gymnastics team’s meet at Maryland on Sunday. The seventh-ranked Wolverines swept every event, including the all-around, to top the Terrapins, 196.475 – 195.625.
Michigan (3-1 Big Ten, 5-2 overall) started the meet slowly on the uneven bars, falling behind Maryland by 0.475 points. Freshman Lexi Funk and sophomore Emma McLean both scored below a 9.000, with a 8.950 and 7.200, respectively.
Senior Nicole Artz scored a meet-high 9.900 on the uneven bars, though, and it was enough to garner her the top-place finish and keep her team in the running against the Terrapins.
“It was the first event and we still had three to go,” said sophomore Olivia Karas. “And so it would be a shame to give up on the first one when you still have quite an opportunity to make changes. I think that that definitely shows a lot of fight and desire in the team and it’s great to see that from everyone.”
The Wolverines fared better into their next event — the vault — scoring a cumulative 49.250 points. Freshman Paige Zaziski managed a 9.825, the second-best vault score of the meet. McLean, who fell on bars in the first rotation, made a drastic comeback for a career-best in the event, a 9.900.
Not only was it her career best, but also the top score of the meet, and her first ever win in the vault.
“I think that was a nice recovery from the bar routine, to come back and have her bust her best vault,” said Michigan coach Bev Plocki. “(Zaziski) also had her best vault today… so to see them start out struggling and, one of the things that is a great sign, is to be able to come back later in the meet and not just let everything go.”
Still slightly behind Maryland, the Wolverines headed into the third rotation with hopes of taking the lead for good. Consistently one of Michigan’s strong points, the floor exercise proved to be crucial in surging the Wolverines past the Terrapins.
McLean again proved herself in the rotation, scoring a 9.925 to be the second-highest Michigan scorer in the event.
But, it was senior Talia Chiarelli who claimed the first-place finish. With a dynamic routine, Chiarelli scored a 9.775 to secure her place at the top.
“I think that that’s the best floor routine she’s done by far this season,” Plocki said. “I think all of her tumbling passes were right on, and absolutely both judges could have given her a 10 for that routine. It was the best routine I’ve seen her do for sure this year, and in a long time.”
Michigan established a 0.500-point lead heading into the fourth rotation and didn’t let it go. Junior Lauren Marinez scored a career-high 9.950 to take the title, and Funk made her comeback with a 9.925 to take second. Zaziski and Chiarelli rounded out the top four gymnasts in the event with a 9.875 each to secure Michigan as the victors.
Artz, who took first in the uneven bars, also managed to snag the all-around title with a 39.050. She, along with McLean, Marinez and Chiarelli, dominated the leaderboard to prevent the Terrapins from winning any event.
“It shows how much depth we have that we can have the top performer on every single event,” Karas said. “(It) shows just how high quality our teams our and how good we’re getting.”