Gabby Wilson’s teammates huddled around her, waiting for her score to come in from a perfect floor routine. The question lingered in everyone’s head:
Is this the week the judges will give her a 10?
When the judges flipped the cards to the teams and the crowd at Rutgers’ Jersey Mike’s Arena, everyone erupted. Posted on the cards was a 10 — the first of her career.
“Gabby has deserved the 10 on that floor routine many times,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “Not just this year, but last year too, so to see her finally get that was just incredible.”
Spurred by Wilson’s perfect routine — and three additional perfect 10s from her teammates — the Michigan women’s gymnastics team recorded a win over Rutgers (5-7, 1-2 Big Ten) and Alaska (0-6) on Friday. The Wolverines’ team score of 198.525 set a new program record, almost 0.300 points higher than the previous mark.
After Wilson’s perfect floor score, Michigan was fired up. When the Wolverines moved to vault — their best event — the gymnasts did the seemingly impossible. The first vault, by sophomore Reyna Guggino, was also perfect. She, too, got her first perfect 10.
Senior Natalie Wojcik followed, executing a vault that was just as good, if not better than Guggino’s. Naturally, the judges gave her a 10.
Then came senior Abby Heiskell. She performed the same vault as her two teammates she followed, and did it perfectly as well.
“The energy that we can make as a team is very contagious,” Guggino said. “As you could see tonight, it was definitely there and definitely contagious, one after another.”
In addition to the Wolverines’ record-breaking score, Wojcik’s all around score of 49.825 also tied the program record, matching Olympians Suni Lee and Jade Carey for the highest all-around score in the country this season.
Michigan’s record-breaking score was especially impressive considering the team’s start on the bars. While Heiskell kicked things off on bars with a stellar routine, earning a 9.925, sophomore Naomi Morrison had a fall in the third spot of the rotation, putting pressure on the rest of her teammates to execute their routines. The next two gymnasts did, with freshman Jacey Vore earning a career high 9.925 and Wilson scoring a 9.875.
Then, Wojcik, in the anchor position, did the unexpected and fell from the bar. Fortunate for her, the fall was because her grip broke, and an equipment malfunction allows the gymnasts to restart their routine with no deduction. Impressively, after being shaken up by a fall, Wojcik broke in a new pair of grips and mounted the bar again in less than 5 minutes, performing a routine that earned a solid score of 9.925.
“What happened on bars kept us in check,” Wilson said. “So far this season, we haven’t really had a huge slip up to come back from, or any really big adversity. I think it just refocused us, but it gave us momentum for the rest of the meet, so we didn’t take anything else for granted.”
The Wolverines then moved to beam, where they performed their best beam rotation of the season, earning a 49.500. The event was highlighted by Heiskell and Wojcik, who delivered a 9.925 and a 9.950 in the last two routines of the rotation.
Moving to the floor, momentum was high for Michigan. However, a mistake from Heiskell in the second routine again required the rest of the team to step in and perform well. The Wolverines used that pressure to their advantage, as Wojcik earned a 9.950 and Morrison a 9.975, setting up Wilson’s perfect 10.
“The thing that I’m really proud of, from a team standpoint, is that we had a mistake on every event, and the team pulled together, overcame it, and moved beyond it,” Plocki said. “As a coach, I just couldn’t be happier about the way this team continues to show me how strong they are as a team, and how determined and how mentally tough they are.”
The Wolverines, the best vaulting team in the country, moved to vault for their final rotation. Guggino’s perfect 10 got the event underway, marking just the second ever leadoff perfect 10 in NCAA history. Then came Wojcik and Heiskell’s 10s, followed by a near-perfect 9.975 from Morrison, and a solid 9.900 anchor performance from Wilson. The vaulting performance earned Michigan a program-record vault score of 49.875.
Michigan’s performance ultimately broke the team score record as well, further proving the group’s domination, as the No. 1 team in the country about halfway through the season.