The Michigan women’s gymnastics team had all the ingredients for a feast.
“Our first event was the appetizer,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “The second was the soup and salad, followed by the main course and, of course, floor exercise was dessert. And I do love dessert.”
In front of more than 4,000 spectators at Crisler Arena on Friday, the fourth-ranked Wolverines cooked up the sixth-highest score in program history to knock out three-time defending national champion and current No. 1 Georgia, 197.600-196.950.
Michigan gymnasts took all four event titles, and sophomore Sarah Curtis won her third all-around crown of the season with a Big Ten and Michigan record 39.600 score.
Two Michigan falls proved crucial in the meet, but neither factored into the scoring.
Coming into the competition, the Wolverines knew their beam score would either give them a shot at the upset or crush that chance. Michigan has been inconsistent on the event all season. Michigan had a slight .275-point lead going into the third rotation, which was beam.
The second gymnast in the lineup, sophomore Jordan Sexton, fell off the apparatus just seconds into her routine – an automatic half-point deduction. The four remaining gymnasts knew they had to stay on the beam and put up high scores so that fall wouldn’t count.
Fresh off a title-worthy vault performance and a top-five bars score, Curtis leapt onto the beam after her teammate’s fall. With composure and a stuck dismount, Curtis posted a 9.900, which put the Wolverines back on track for a win.
“I’m always nervous for beam right before I get on,” Curtis said. “But I actually think her fall gave me more motivation. I just had a lot more adrenaline and energy to stay on the beam.”
With a series of bobble-free jumps, back walkovers and stuck landings, the remaining three gymnasts posted scores above 9.850. The crew combined for a season-high beam total of 49.350.
The floor exercise – Plocki’s dessert – was almost a formality, as the Wolverines had a sizable .525-point lead by the final rotation. With the crowd getting louder and louder, the gymnasts flipped and danced their way into the record books.
And while dessert was served in the form of a season-high team total on floor, it was bittersweet.
After the Wolverines (5-0 Big Ten, 15-0 overall) had sealed their victory, freshman Trish Wilson attempted an exhibition performance on floor exercise.
Murmurs passed through the crowd as parents and students calculated the final results. Few people were watching Wilson.
But when she miscalculated a flip and landed simultaneously on her head and her right knee, the seventh-largest crowd in program history gasped. Wilson clutched her knee, froze and was immediately carried off the mat by Michigan assistant coach Louis Robinson Jr. and a team trainer.
“We’re not sure how serious it is,” said Plocki after she returned from the trainer’s room. “She’s had knee injuries before, so it’s probably not great.”
Wilson won the uneven bars title Friday, the fourth of her career. If the apparent right-knee injury keeps her out of competition, likely replacements are senior Megan Moore or freshman Kari Pearce, who both performed bars exhibition routines.
The Wolverines will need to rely on their deep roster if Wilson’s injury is serious. But for now, they’re happy to enjoy the impressive upset.
“It was great to come in here and be the underdogs,” Plocki said. “We had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. We wanted to come out tonight, make it a party and have fun.”
For the Wolverines, it was certainly a tasty four-course meal.