Despite a rough start in the Big Five meet Saturday afternoon, the Michigan women’s gymnastics team proved its resiliency with a strong comeback on Senior Day after a poor first event on floor. The Wolverines (6-1 overall, 5-1 Big Ten) placed second in Saturday’s meet with an all-around score of 195.925.
“It’s senior night and we also had Abby Brenner go down (in the floor), which was super unfortunate, so (Michigan coach Bev Plocki) was like ‘Do it for them, do it for your seniors, do it for Abby Brenner,’ ” sophomore Sierra Brooks said. “That’s what kept me going, I was like, ‘I want this to be an amazing meet for our seniors.’ I love them to death, so just go out and do your best performances and don’t feel bad for yourself, just go out and do what we can do.”
Using Plocki’s motivation, Michigan was able to have strong performances on the rest of their events, with season high scores of 49.525 on the vault and bars. Sophomore Sierra Brooks led the way, winning the all-around title, as well as vault and beam titles. Iowa (8-1) won the meet with a final score of 196.100, Penn State (2-8) placed third with a score of 195.850 and Rutgers (1-8) finished in fourth with a 195.225.
With three falls on the floor to start the meet, Michigan’s plan to get off to a hot start with a typically strong event fell through quickly.
“We feel like floor is a really really good event for us, even though that didn’t show tonight,” Plocki said. “Our goal was to come out of the gate strong and start off on a great note, and obviously our plan got blown up in the first rotation.”
Junior Abby Brenner was the first of three Wolverines to fall on the floor, with a hard landing on her first pass that caused an ankle injury and halted her routine.Wojcik followed, performing an atypical routine, falling on her second pass and receiving a low score of 9.050. Wilson also ended the rotation with a fall on her last pass.
“Normally we start the meets on vault so it was definitely a little different starting on floor, we did practice it in the gym this week though,” Wojcik said. “But we had a few uncharacteristic mistakes.”
The Wolverines ended the rotation on floor with a 47.500, their lowest event score of the season. Meanwhile, Rutgers led the second rotation with a team score of 48.725 on vault, with the Hawkeyes trailing close behind on the beam with a team score of 48.525, highlighted by a 9.950 from Clair Kaji.
After the disappointing start on floor for Michigan, it recuperated for the vault and surged for its season-high score in the third rotation of the night. Brooks earned an almost perfect score of 9.975, and Wojcik and Wilson recovered from the previous event with strong performances as well, scoring a 9.925 and a 9.900, respectively.
“Typically when I’m relaxed in the air I can find the landing … and I was able to find the landing and I was super excited to finally hit the sweet spot,” Brooks said.
Michigan delivered another outstanding rotation on bars for the fourth rotation of the meet, with another season high score of 49.525. Wilson, sophomore Nicoletta Koulos, Brooks and Wojcik all scored a 9.900 or higher, and all stuck their dismounts. Senior Anne Maxim also stepped in for Brenner after her injury, getting the opportunity to compete on senior night.
Iowa, meanwhile, banked on the lead it had built in the second rotation as the Wolverines bit at its heels. Iowa started off shaky with a 49.000 on floor and two falls on beam that led to a 48.525, but didn’t give Michigan a chance to catch up in the end of the meet with the Hawkeyes’ strong performance on floor in their last rotation, closing out with a 49.375.
The Wolverines ended their meet on beam with a score of 48.375, with Brooks winning the event with a 9.950. Senior Lauren Farley also had a good performance for her senior night, earning a 9.800. The solid performance by Michigan pushed them into second place for the meet, falling only 0.175 points behind Iowa despite the falls early on in the meet, showing their resiliency as the meet progressed.
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