Michigan gymnastics wins NCAA Regional
The legendary musician John Denver once sang, “West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home.”
Though the Michigan women’s gymnastics team was 350 miles from Ann Arbor, the Wolverines felt right at home at the NCAA Regional in Morgantown, W.Va. Michigan scored 197.50 points, which was enough to secure its 12th NCAA Regional victory. The Wolverines won five individual titles, tying a school record.
“They’re probably a little tired,” said Michigan coach Bev Plocki. “But right after the competition, they were definitely excited. It was a lot of fun.”
Michigan’s star performer was undoubtedly junior Paige Zaziski, who accounted for three of the Wolverines’ individual championships. Zaziski earned victories in the all-around (39.575 points), vault (9.875) and bars (9.950). As if all of that wasn’t enough, Zaziski was also substituted into the floor event at the last minute for junior Lauren Marinez, and subsequently placed third (9.900).
“My teammates talked to me before I went on the floor,” Zaziski said. “And I think that was really helpful. I was just ready for whatever happened and to do whatever was best for the team.”
Added Plocki: “Floor is an event that we’ve been trying to get (Zaziski) ready on. She’s done well at it in practice, but we’ve given her a couple of opportunities in exhibitions earlier this year and they didn’t go so well. So we just kept plugging away at it in practice and building up her confidence. We made a decision that we would see how the meet was going and where we were sitting. If things were looking good, we were going to change the lineup.”
But sophomore Emma McLean wouldn’t let Zaziski have all of Michigan’s glory. McLean excelled on the vault as well, tying for first place with Zaziski — not that Zaziski minded splitting a championship with a fellow Wolverine.
“I’m just glad that we all came up big today and won (as a team),” Zaziski said. “I didn’t really care about the individual awards.”
Senior Nicole Artz also earned a victory on the beam, tallying a season-high score of 9.925. Artz’s win was made more impressive by the fact that she was the only gymnast at the regional to score higher than 9.900 in the beam event.
Michigan’s triumph in the Morgantown regional secured its spot in the NCAA Championships — which will be its 23rd appearance — in St. Louis, M.O. on April 14.
But if the Wolverines perform in the NCAA Championships like they did at the regional, Michigan will feel just as at home in St. Louis as it did in West Virginia.