Wolverines topple Eagles in exhibition meet
The results were about as predictable as they come.
Junior Olivia Karas swept the all around with a score of 39.275, beating out two Eastern Michigan gymnasts for the top spot during Sunday afternoon’s exhibition.
Karas wasn’t the only Michigan gymnast to take a first-place finish, as the Wolverines swept top placements for all four rotations of the meet, pushing Michigan to an almost three-point win, 196.125 to 193.450.
“I think it was a really good opportunity for us to see where we are,” Karas said. “Normally I think (this exhibition) is the second week in December, so since it was the first week it came up kind of quickly on us. But I think it’s really good to see where we are at this point and to build off of it to go forward in the season.”
Michigan jumped to an early lead after the first rotation, when the Wolverines vaulted to a 49.050 - 48.750 lead. Karas took the title with a 9.875, followed by senior Paige Zaziski and freshman Sydney Townsend with a 9.850 and 9.800, respectively.
The following uneven bars rotation showcased a phenomenal routine from senior Brianna Brown, who claimed first with a 9.925 — the highest individual score of the meet.
“So proud of this young lady, Brianna Brown,” said Michigan coach Bev Plocki. “Let the world know Brianna Brown is back and she is taking names. She is doing great.”
Karas followed Brown by taking second in the event with a 9.875, while Eagles senior Kendall Valentin finished third with a 9.875.
The Wolverines’ third rotation, the balance beam, featured one sole freshman debut — Lauren Farley — that earned the event’s highest score with team-high 9.850. Michigan rounded out the top three in the event, with sophomore Lexi Funk recording a 9.825 along with senior Lauren Marinez.
With a 147.325-145.475 lead in tow, the Wolverines headed to a historically team-favorite event — the floor exercise — to close out the meet. McLean dominated the event with a 9.900, and Michigan gymnasts Brown, Marinez and Karas swept the following top three places.
The event wasn’t without flaws to improve on, though. Sophomore Maddy Osman botched a mid-routine tumbling pass, resulting in a 8.950.
Osman's tumbling pass wasn't the only misstep of the meet either. Townsend took a step sideways on the landing of her vault, and McLean also had vault troubles with a botched landing that resulted in a 9.300. Zaziski had a slight bobble after her acrobatic sequence on the balance beam for a 9.675, and Marinez scored an 8.950 after falling on a release move in an otherwise impressive bars routine.
“I think this team has showed that they are really solid and they have what it takes to be a championship-level program," Plocki said. "But we don’t have enough time for me to tell you all of the little tweaks we want to make between now and as we go through the season.”
The Wolverines will look to make these improvements by Jan. 5, when they host Alabama in their first scored meet of the season. But with an already strong base to work off of, those issues might not pose too big of a problem for Plocki's hopeful championship-level program.