Injury troubles are still plaguing a slew of athletes on the No. 9 Michigan women”s gymnastics team, but they”ll have little time for rest as they prepare for road meets against No. 5 Minnesota and No. 16 Ohio State over the next two weeks.
Even after the Wolverines” victory over Northern Illinois last Sunday, it was visibly apparent that injuries were keeping Michigan from reaching its full potential. Just five of the six gymnasts competed in at least two events, while sophomore Elise Ray (bruised heel) competed on only the beam and uneven bars, marking the first time in 14 collegiate meets that she did not compete in the all-around competition.
“We”ve just gotten used to dealing with injuries,” junior co-captain Janessa Grieco said. “It”s kind of become second hand. It”s better that we”re injured at this point in time than if it were March.”
Senior Melissa Peterson, who is coming back from a shoulder injury, could return to the vault against Minnesota after being pulled from the event against Northern Illinois.
“We”re very much trying to look past (the injuries),” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “We can”t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to be proud of who we do have competing.”
The Wolverines experienced further woes on Sunday when their first two gymnasts suffered falls in their routines. It”s a problem that they”ve been dealing with all season and are ready to kick to the side.
“We”ve really been practicing every routine like you”re at a meet,” senior Shannon MacKenzie said. “We did our pressure sets and we hit six for six, so I really think we”re building confidence in ourselves and in each other.”
MacKenzie earned her first beam title of the year with a score of 9.850 on Sunday.
As a result of the injuries, she”s also one of many Wolverines who have been forced to compete in events they aren”t accustomed to. MacKenzie, a beam specialist, has spent the last few weeks reacquainting herself with her old bar routine.
“I wasn”t anticipating doing some of the events I”m doing now, but it”s also been a blast,” MacKenzie said. “I think the seniors are trying to pick it up a bit and show the underclassmen that we”ll be okay through this.”
The injuries have also brought sophomore Calli Ryals, who won her first all-around title on Sunday with a score of 38.925, to the forefront. She will be another pillar for the Wolverines to lean on in the upcoming road trip, as Ray is not expected to return to all-around competition soon.
Michigan”s meet at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis tomorrow will force a team undergoing roster changes to try and gel quickly. The Golden Gophers just recently moved past the Wolverines in the rankings and are averaging 194.775 points per meet.
“We can”t worry about what the competition does,” Plocki said. “We just have to stay focused on being in control on what we can do, and the result will be a byproduct of us going out there and doing our job.”