The party got started early at the No. 7 Michigan women’s gymnastics Spring Break Party meet against New Hampshire.
The Wolverines were coming off of a team-high score of 197.950 points at the Elevate the Stage meet last weekend. They also secured the Big Ten regular-season title with a 9-0 record in the conference — for the second year in a row. With its growing collection of banners, Michigan now has an even higher standard of competition than it did before.
On Friday night, against New Hampshire, Michigan lived up to that expectation, beating the Wildcats 197.900-195.050.
Starting the meet off on vault, the Wolverines posted a team score of 49.475. Freshman Gabby Wilson won the event with a 9.925, en route to a career-high 39.650 in the all-around. After sticking the landing, she sent the crowd into rounds of “Let’s Go Blue” which echoed throughout Crisler Center the rest of the night.
On bars, the Wolverines kept the spark alive with a team score of 49.475 — a season-high team score, beating their previous high of 49.400, which was just accomplished last week.
“I was really hoping that the meet last week would give us the energy and the spark and the confidence to be able to do it again, and it did,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “So I said to them after the meet, ‘I’m really really proud of what we did because last week wasn’t a fluke. We’ve done it two weeks in a row.’ ”
Winning the bars was sophomore Natalie Wojcik. She posted a score of 9.950 and held scores equal to or above 9.900 on three of four events. Michigan held all top five spots on the event.
“Tonight was super exciting,” Wojcik said. “We were coming off of a school-record and a season-high last week and we just really wanted to carry that energy over into this whole meet.”
On beam — an event Michigan struggled on early in the season — the Wolverines surpassed expectations with a team score of 49.425, matching the team-high score for the second week in a row. Senior Lexi Funk matched her career-high of 9.925 after sticking both her acrobatic combination and her dismount.
Funk only competed in two events against the Wildcats, but competed at a high level with precision in both. She posted a season-high score of 9.875 on floor. Running off the mat, she jumped into Michigan assistant coach Maile’ana Kanewa-Hermelyn’s arms.
“I think on the events that I’m not competing on it’s more of bringing energy and doing whatever I need to do to get the athletes who are competing on that event ready,” Funk said. “And just focusing on my two events when I’m up to go and contributing in the best way that I can.”
On floor, Michigan’s last event of the night, the Wolverines again swept the top five spots, ending the event with a team score of 49.525. Wojick won the event overall with a score of 9.950, nailing her landings on all passes.
On Friday, though, the Wolverines didn’t just compete against the Wildcats, but against former Michigan gymnast Lindsey Bruck Ayotte — New Hampshire’s head coach.
“It makes me very proud,” Plocki said, “to know that athletes and or coaches that have gone through our program are out on their own now doing great things.”
The pride that Plocki has for her Michigan gymnasts is comparable to the pride Wolverines’ have for competition. Taking their team motto, lock-in, to heart, each gymnast — Friday and throughout the season — has embodied what Michigan gymnastics is — a highly competitive program.
After their program-high score last weekend, the Wolverines could have shied away from the new level of competition they are capable of competing at. Instead, Michigan accepted the challenge and performed.
But, despite the high level of competition, the Wolverines are still looking to improve.
“We’re still scratching at the door of that 198 (point performance),” Plocki said.
When asked how Michigan continues to improve, Plocki gave a motto the Wolverines embody every day when they show up to practice.
“You just keep at it.”