Emotions weren’t the only thing running high during Friday night’s final home women’s gymnastics meet.

The scores were sky high as Michigan defeated Iowa 197.800-194.275 — the highest team score posted by any team in the nation this year.

Michigan also tied or broke season or career records in 14 straight routines through the first three events.

The final home meet of the season started out on a teary-eyed note as fans and teammates bid farewell to the five departing seniors — Shanna Duggan, Chelsea Kroll, Lauren Mirkovich, Elise Ray and Kara Rosella.

But the tearful reflection soon turned into tenacity from the very first vault.

“Senior night always seems to be just an emotional high for us,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “And I hope that tradition continues because it’s just fantastic.”

The events started out with a bang, as the vaulters had their best night of the season. Led by junior Jenny Deiley (9.95), Michigan compiled a team score of 49.475.

But Mirkovich’s vault — the first routine of the evening — set the tone for the rotation and the entire meet. When the senior finished her vault with a perfect landing, the crowd went wild and many fans stood up to cheer the California-native.

“The way Lauren Mirkovich started us out on vault — That was the best vault I have seen her do in her whole Michigan career,” Plocki said. And to start the meet with that, I think was outstanding.”

The Wolverines controlled the meet from start to finish, not giving the Hawkeyes any room for error. In a complete sweep, Michigan placed in every single event and had the top-three all-around winners — Deiley (39.625), sophomore Lindsey Bruck (39.550) and Ray (39.525).

The Wolverines had to calm down for the balance beam, an event that requires careful concentration and not reckless intensity.

But Michigan’s intensity went right back up during their floor routines. Each gymnast’s routine was spirited and full of life — five of the six routines scored a 9.90 or higher.

And each performance by an underclassman seemed to be an extra special salute to their departing teammates.

“Do it for the seniors,” Deiley said of the night’s theme. “If anything else do it for the seniors. This is their last meet here.”

For Ray, the week leading up to the meet was a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

“It was really tough,” Ray said. “I’m really good at controlling my mind for competition. But I was a little bit all over the place mentally just because of a lot of nostalgia. I kept thinking, ‘This is my last this and this is my last that,’ and that wasn’t helping. But I had fun times. Sad but fun.”

Before the meet, the Crisler Arena crowd watched a video montage on the scoreboard while the song “Time of Your Life” played on the stadium speakers.

On Friday night, the Wolverines made sure the five departing seniors would have the time of their lives in the final home meet of their careers.

 

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