The match rivaled that of a heavyweight boxing title bout.
Back and forth the blows went. And in the end, like a truly great heavyweight fight, the underdog stunned the favorite in yesterday”s women”s gymnastics meet between No. 6 Michigan and No. 2 Georgia in front of 3,037 raucous fans at Crisler Arena.
Elise Ray”s all-around score of 39.625 including individual event wins in the vault and floor exercise propelled the Wolverines to their first ever regular season win against the Gym Dawgs, 197.175-197.025.
Michigan had been 0-13 against Georgia in regular season events and was 1-27 against Georgia in all meets. The Michigan seniors were 0-9 against Georgia.
“Four years of hard work finally came together today,” senior Amy Kuczera said. “Amazing, that”s all I can say.”
Michigan (3-0 Big Ten, 10-2 overall) opened up the meet with a season high 49.275 on the vault and had a narrow 98.35-98.15 lead after switching rotations with Georgia (4-0 SEC, 6-2) and competing on the uneven bars.
But then, in typical fashion, Georgia clawed its way back.
With Michigan competing valiantly on the balance beam and scoring a 48.325 which included a 10 from one judge on Elise Ray”s 9.975 Georgia showed the Wolverines why they were the nations second best team by reeling off three consecutive 9.95″s on the floor to finish with a team score of 49.525.
Just like that the overall team score was tied at 147.675.
Melissa Peterson opened up the floor exercise for Michigan with a solid 9.875 and then fellow senior and floor specialist and captain Jodie Rosenberg came to the mat.
While all the fans knew the score, Rosenberg didn”t focus on how close the match was.
“I didn”t know the score was tied,” Rosenberg said before scoring a 9.85 on the Wolverines second rotation. “I knew it was close but I had no idea we were tied.”
After a 9.85 from freshman Kallie Steffes and a 9.9 and 9.8 from two Georgia gymnasts on the balance beam, Michigan held a narrow .025 lead with three competitors left.
Enter Janessa Grieco, Ray and Calli Ryals.
Ray, performing in her first floor exercise in over a month, showed why pressure is never an issue with her and tumbled to a 9.9 and a standing ovation.
Georgia”s Sierra Sapunar couldn”t stay with Ray”s 9.9 and nearly fell off the beam before finishing her rotation strong and scoring a 9.675.
But that difference was all the Wolverines would need as Grieco and Ryals shut the door on the Gym Dogs with scores of 9.925 and 9.95 respectively.
“It was nerve wracking but everyone before me hit so solid and that took so much of the pressure off,” Ryals said.
Despite the loss, Georgia moved up to No. 1 in the nation because the rankings are based on scoring avreage rather than wins or losses.