Abby Brenner launched herself off the vault, soared through the air and stuck the landing. 

The sophomore earned a career best 9.950, just five-hundredths away from a perfect score. Her performance set the tone for the No. 8 Michigan women’s gymnastics team (5-0 overall, 3-0 Big Ten) on Thursday.

The Wolverines took on No. 17 Nebraska (3-2, 2-1) in a Big Ten showdown, and tensions were high throughout. The meet was back and forth, but Michigan pulled out a win, 197.075-196.975.  

“(They were) able to get the job done.” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “They did it, and I’m really proud of them.”

Added Brenner: “This team is something special. (We’re) just building off each performance.”

But their performance started slow on the uneven bars. Sophomore Natalie Wojcik led the way with a score of 9.875, but the team trailed the Cornhuskers after the first event.

The Wolverines then moved to the vault, where they had their strongest performance of the day. Michigan scored a total of 49.325 and was able to take the lead.

The entire team had strong showings, but it was Brenner who stole the show.

“I was just really excited and proud of myself to show all the hard work that I have been putting in at the gym,” Brenner said. “It was incredible.”

Through two events, the Wolverines led 98.550-98.400. They flipped and danced their way through their floor routines to hold the lead. Freshman Gabby Wilson continued her breakout season with a score of 9.875. She posted the same score on floor the previous weekend.  

“She’s just doing big things.” Brenner said. “She’s been putting a lot of effort in the gym and she’s just so fun to watch.”

Michigan clung to its narrow advantage as it moved to the final event — the balance beam. They were paced by freshman Sierra Brooks, who put up a strong score of 9.875. Brooks was one of two Wolverine gymnasts who participated in all four events. Despite her inexperience, she has taken on a huge workload each week and delivered. 

“I feel kind of like a broken record,” Plocki said. “She’s been a rock star.”

Nebraska pushed hard with their floor routine, but Michigan could not be rattled. Each gymnast fought off the nerves and calmly nailed their routine. The whole team was there to show support after each beam performance finished and refused to let the lead slip away. The final scores were revealed, and the Wolverines held on for the win by one-tenth of a point.

“(We’re) just taking it one meet at a time.” Plocki said. “Trying to continue to improve.”

Michigan picked up its second win against a ranked opponent away from home. The team remained undefeated and continued to display its elite talent and versatility. Expectations are rising, but the Wolverines have continued to perform under pressure and put the rest of the Big Ten on notice. 

“We have to thrive in these situations and embrace the battle,” Plocki said. “This is what prepares us for the championship part of the season.”

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