The No. 8 Michigan women’s gymnastics team overcame harsh judging and a shaky bar performance to rack up 196.275 points, its second-highest home score of the season, during Saturday’s dual against No. 3 Oklahoma.
Though they fell .400 short of the Sooners (11-0 overall), the Wolverines came away with plenty of confidence to spare.
“They ended up scoring above us, but we’re proud of how we did tonight,” senior Kylee Botterman said after the meet. “We had a few ups and downs, but we’re glad we got a solid home score.”
Michigan (10-4 overall) fell to a disadvantage early in the vault and uneven bar events. Botterman led the Wolverines in the vault with the third-best score of 9.875, and senior Trish Wilson anchored the uneven bars with the second-best score 9.850, but Michigan trailed the Sooners by .100 in each event.
In the uneven bars, the Wolverines made uncharacteristic errors early in the lineup that proved costly. It wasn’t until redshirt senior Jordan Sexton, who competed fourth, that Michigan broke the 9.800 plane.
“We missed a few handstands on bars, and we didn’t stick our dismounts, so we lost a few tenths there,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “If we were going to pick up a couple of tenths, it would have been on uneven bars.”
Plocki said that strict judging also played a role in the Wolverines’ unusually low score of 48.900 in the event.
In the third round of events, The Wolverines’ beam score tied Oklahoma’s floor exercise score at 49.125 to put the match decision into the final event. Sophomore Katie Zurales anchored the beam, tying a personal best score of 9.850. She also posted a solid 9.800 earlier in the vault, making her one of the more consistent performers in the Michigan lineup.
“(Vault and beam) are my two best events,” Zurales said. “I’m trying to keep my body healthy for the rest of the season and focus on these two events for now, and hopefully I’ll work my way to the other two for next season.”
Botterman dazzled to close out the floor exercises, scoring the only 9.900 of the event, but the Sooners answered with their own 9.900 in the beam to pull away with the win.
With an overall score of 39.400, Botterman edged out Oklahoma sophomore Kayla Nowak by .025 to secure her eighth all-around title in a row.
“[Botterman has] just been having a spectacular season,” Plocki said. “She’s been very solid and consistent all season long, and she deserves the title.”
Although Michigan narrowly missed an opportunity to end the Sooners’ undefeated streak, the experience of competing at such a high level solidified the Wolverines’ faith in themselves for the upcoming weeks as they take on No. 5 Alabama and No. 4 Georgia to finish the regular season.
“We still have a lot better quality routines that we’re going to put together for the rest of the year,” Botterman said. “Even though this was our second best home score, we’re not going to be satisifed until we reach our full potential.”