Down 0.150 going into the final rotation of the meet, the Michigan women’s gymnastics team needed a miracle.
Even though the Wolverines ended on floor, one of their strongest events, their usual excellence wouldn’t necessarily have been enough for them to win the meet. Their average floor score, 49.565, wouldn’t make up the difference if Oklahoma performed to their average on beam, 49.517 – meaning that Michigan needed to over perform, and the Sooners needed to falter.
It was a daunting task, the Wolverines coming off of a mixed beam rotation, and Oklahoma is the second ranked team nationally on the beam – they were unlikely to give Michigan the edge. And yet, it refused to give in.
“No one had the mindset that we had already lost the meet,” senior Sierra Brooks said.
Despite an unusually low beam performance earlier in the night from senior Nicoletta Koulos, she flew through her floor routine, scoring 9.925, significantly above her season average of 9.822. Conversely, Sooner Jenna Dunn scored a 9.000 on her beam routine, allowing the Wolverines to begin closing the gap.
Graduate students Abby Heiskell and Natalie Wojcik also scored 9.925 on their floor routines, further shrinking the deficit as Heiskell’s ABBA mashup brought Crisler Center to its feet.
Junior Naomi Morrison performed an explosive routine, getting major height on her tumbling passes, and scoring a 9.950 to bring Michigan even closer. However, Oklahoma responded, posting two scores of 9.950 to maintain the lead.
The Wolverines could have lost their composure and allowed the Sooners to walk away with the road win, but they fought to keep calm.
“It’s not over till its over,” senior Gabby Wilson said.
And indeed it wasn’t.
Oklahoma’s Faith Torrez stumbled multiple times in her beam routine, scoring only 9.750 and forcing the Sooners to keep a sub 9.900 score in their total. It gave Michigan the chance to take the lead for the first time all meet with their best floor performer, Brooks, slated to go next on the mat.
On Brooks’ first tumbling pass, however, she almost stepped out of bounds on her full tuck double backflip, incurring a penalty for a 9.900. The Wolverines needed either Oklahoma to under-perform or an almost perfect score from Wilson in order to close out the meet with a win.
They got both of their wishes.
Sooner Ragan Smith slipped and turned to the side on her back handspring, scoring a 9.800 – well under her season average of 9.897.
Wilson, simultaneously, delivered an almost flawless floor routine in her final routine at home, scoring a 9.975. Crisler Center erupted into cheers, and the Wolverines clinched a long sought-after win over Oklahoma.
“It’s really just about trusting that my teammates have my back,” Wilson said. “Then I’m able to just go out, breathe and relax, and just do my best gymnastics, so that’s … how I went into it today.”
Michigan desperately wanted to win, after stumbling early, a dominant floor routine made the comeback victory even sweeter.
Although they struggled early on, the Wolverines were able to find their footing on the floor, coming from behind to beat the No. 1 team in the country.