The students were on their feet Friday night at Crisler Arena, jumping in circles to the tune of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Jump On It.”
No, it wasn’t a concert. It was the musical accompaniment to sophomore gymnast Tatjana Thuener-Rego’s floor routine.
“That was kind of the point of the music,” Thuener-Rego said. “I really wanted something that the crowd could get into.”
The energy from the crowd propelled Thuener-Rego to a 9.8 in the floor exercise, her best performance in that event this year. More importantly, it was the final piece of the puzzle to Thuener-Rego’s second career all-around title.
“The first time I’d ever won the all around in a collegiate meet was last year at our Denver meet,” Thuener-Rego said. “So it’s kind of funny that the first time I took the all around this year was at the Denver meet.”
Thuener-Rego’s energy and nearly perfect routines, added to her individual titles in the uneven bars and balance beam, made her performance memorable for those in attendance.
With Thuener-Rego’s help, Michigan outscored Denver 196.125 to 194.700 and improved its all-time record against the Pioneers to 5-1.
It was also the Wolverines’ highest point output of the season, not to mention that the performance increases the team’s average score and will most likely get them into the top 10 of the GymInfo Top-25 poll.
“This is the best weekend we have had by far,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said.
But as well as the night concluded, it began just as poorly.
During warm-ups, freshman all-around competitor Sarah Curtis went down with an injury that silenced the crowd. The undiagnosed injury meant the Wolverines had to scramble to fill her spots, which they did flawlessly.
Thuener-Rego, who usually doesn’t compete in vault, scored a 9.850, which was the highest score on the team. Senior Carol McNamara, who hadn’t competed on bars since she was a sophomore, scored a 9.725. Jaclyn Kramer also stepped up for Curtis and competed in the balance beam, scoring a 9.7.
“Once again, the people that stepped into lineups stepped in and hit their routines,” Plocki said. “And I think that the way this team reacted tonight tells me a great deal about their strength and character. Overall, I just couldn’t be more proud of this team.”
Strength and character will be two vital factors to the Wolverine’s success throughout the rest of the season because the team was already down two all-around competitors before Curtis’s injury.
Two weeks ago, senior and two-time All-American Lindsey Bruck and freshman Jordan Sexton both went down with season-ending injuries.
“We have yet another bump in the road,” Thuener-Rego said. “But this team never ceases to amaze me at how we can bring it together and step up when we need to. It’s an amazing feeling to be on a team like this.”
The two other all-around competitors had excellent nights, too.
Michigan gymnasts Nellie Kippley (39.275) and Huneth Lor (39.075) finished second and third in the all-around, respectively, both setting career highs.
After last weekends all-around score of 37.550, Kippley stepped up her performance against Denver. She finished first in the floor exercise and second behind Thuener-Rego in both the uneven bars and balance beam.
“What I learned from this team tonight is that nothing is going to make them give up,” Plocki said. “And I think they just really took the attitude that ‘you know what, we’re just going to keep going and were still capable of doing this.’ And that makes me very excited about the rest of the season.”