Freshman Paul Juda didn’t let the pressure get to him.
He didn’t let being in his first collegiate gymnastics season stop his success. He didn’t let the tough curriculum of Michigan’s Electrical Engineering Department erode his resolve. He didn’t let the pressures of freshman year break him. He even has a midterm next week in his Polish language class.
Cameron Bock stood at one end of the vault runway. Eighty-two feet in front of him, the apparatus waited. Bock launched himself from the springboard, pushed off the vault and twisted in the air. But somewhere in the process, things went awry. A split second after his heels made contact with the mat, so did his butt. His score flashed. It was a 12.650, Michigan’s lowest vault score.
One step at a time. It was a simple approach but it was all that sophomore Maddie Mariani needed to propel herself to a career best performance on the beam. She earned a 9.900 for her routine, but none of it came as a shock to her coach. All the Wolverines stepped up to lead the No. 7 Michigan women’s gymnastics team (7-0 overall, 5-0 Big Ten) to a 196.800-195.975 win over Iowa (4-6, 1-4) Friday night.
The meet was well-matched from the beginning. Many of the rotations ended with Michigan and Oklahoma within just a few points of each other. Both teams were putting up high scores and solid performances, and it was in the middle of this exciting meet when sophomore Cameron Bock stepped up to the parallel bars, one of his best events. The atmosphere in Cliff Keen Arena on Saturday afternoon was raucous and exciting. Both teams loudly cheered on their teammates as events occurred simultaneously, with the Wolverines aided by an enthusiastic home crowd. The result was a cacophony of support as No. 3 Michigan (8-0-0) and No. 2 Oklahoma (8-2-0) competed, with the Wolverines coming out on top, winning 416.500-408.900.
Ultimately, solid performances like Juda’s led the fourth-ranked Wolverines’ (8-0) triumph over No. 19 Northern Illinois (0-7) and the University of Illinois-Chicago (2-8) with a total score of 413.400. The Wolverines won the meet by 55.450 points, with UIC taking second (357.950) and NIU in third (271.700).
While Sunday marked the first home meet for women’s gymnastics this year, the Wolverines weren’t rusty at all. Starting the season on a high, the No. 9 Michigan gymnastics team (4-0 overall, 2-0 Big Ten) easily defeated No. 36 Rutgers (0-3, 0-2), 197.25-192.950, in both a memorable and meaningful night.