Seniors honored in last home meet of the season
Good Riddance, the song by Green Day, played throughout Crisler Center — to good effort. On an afternoon completed with a win against No. 4 Utah, the No. 7 Michigan women’s gymnastics team (4-1 Big Ten, 11-2-1 overall) had one more reason for celebrating. The final home meet for its seniors was anything but a good riddance.
Friends and family watched on as a video flashed on the screen. It showed clips of the gymnasts as young, wide-eyed girls and proceeded to show pictures of them today.
First on the board was Brianna Brown. “B,” as they call her, is a three-time All-American and 2016 Big Ten Champion on the bars.
Cailee Hills was shown next. Though Hills medically retired after her freshman year due to a career-ending hip injury, she continued her dedication to the team by becoming a student assistant coach.
Next came Lauren Marinez. Commonly thought of as the motherly figure of the team, “Lolo” is a master at the beam with five career event titles and a season-high 9.925 on the beam.
Last was Paige Zaziski. Zaziski is an All-American on bars, All-Big Ten first team in 2016 and All-SEC during her first two years at Arkansas.
Throughout their respective careers, the four displayed the high standards of Wolverine gymnastics. On Saturday, they did it again.
The seniors were awarded with loud roars, balloons and flowers. But even with the ongoing list of accolades, the Michigan seniors were humble about their collegiate accomplishments and wanted to believe this meet was nothing out of the ordinary.
“I think just knowing this was my last time on this equipment and this atmosphere, it hadn’t really hit me,” Brown said. “I wasn’t trying to think about it too much until after the meet was over.”
Zaziski had a similar mindset during the last meet of the season.
“I was trying to soak everything up, but also not think about it too much,” Zaziski said. “It feels like any other meet. I was just going out there and having fun.”
However, the coaching staff believes these seniors deserved the standing-ovation recognition, and more. These athletes have shaped and inspired the younger team members through their strength to overcome adversity while keeping their head held high.
“Every group of seniors are special in their own way, but this group has been through a lot,” said Michigan coach Bev Plocki. “They have hung in there and fought and kept great attitudes. They’ve all had something that they need to dig deep in themselves to fight through. Every single one of them did it and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Throughout their time at Michigan, these four ladies faced various injuries, personal health issues and family problems that had the potential to end their enthusiasm towards the sport. Yet, these setbacks never inhibited them. Instead, they strengthened their mindset.
“It takes a strong group of leaders and seniors to give the rest of the team the belief and confidence that we are still in it and to keep fighting,” Plocki said. “I think that’s worth a lot.”