Michigan can’t stay locked-in in home opener

Sunday, January 12, 2020 - 5:18pm

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Allison Engkvist/Daily

Lock-in.

Its the motto the Michigan women’s gymnastics team (1-0) adopted at the start of its season. Featured as a hashtag in each tweet from the teams Twitter, and evident in every interview, the motto has come to define what the Wolverines strive to achieve each meet. However, in its season opener against Texas Woman’s University (0-1) and Washington (0-1), Michigan couldn’t convert its words into actions despite winning 195.650 to 195.350 to 189.850, respectively.

The Wolverines looked locked-in at the get-go. They started strong on the vault, posting a 49.325 score. In her collegiate debut, freshman Gabby Wilson stuck the landing, earning a 9.900 score — the highest on the night. Freshman Sierra Brooks and sophomore Maddie Mariani both contributed scores of 9.875.

“We came up with this new motto called lock-in,” Wilson said. “And I really tried to embody it.”

The next rotation featured Michigan on bars. Senior Maggie O’Hara tied her career-best with a score of 9.825 — after a season-ending Achilles injury last season. Wilson won the bars event with a score of 9.875, while sophomore Natalie Wojick contributed a 9.825. The Wolverines were cruising.

Then they fell apart.

Brooks fell off the bars during her transition from high to low bar, resulting in a 9.100. And with the move to beam, Michigan disregarded their new motto completely.

Wojick, the 2019 NCAA beam champion, fell early in her routine. Overall, the team scored just 48.100 points, nearly one full point lower than its scores on all the other events. The lack of execution on staying locked-in to routines caused the Wolverines to fall behind in the meet standings.

Going into the final rotation Michigan was losing to the Huskies by four-tenths of a point. Undeterred by the deficit, the Wolverines attacked the floor with newly-found focus — but continued to fall short. Wilson stepped out of bounds during a pass, and other errors were contributed by her teammates. The only gymnast to rise up from the adversity was Wojick, who rebounded from her error-ridden beam routine to post a score of 9.900, winning the event.

In the face of numerous mistakes, the Wolverines managed to steal a win by just three-tenths of a point. Despite the win, Michigan was unhappy with its performance.

“Quite honestly, I was very disappointed,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. "Very disappointed with beam and not very excited about floor either.”

In the rest of their season, the Wolverines will look to capitalize on their larget contributors — the underclassmen. With four new freshmen, Michigan isnt panicking.

“I have to remind myself that there’s pressure,” Plocki said. “The freshmen are still learning how to handle that. So I’m not concerned for the season, I think we’re going to turn around the mistakes we made, and I think that we’re on track to have a great season.”

Michigan is ready to lock back in.