COLUMBUS — Going into the final rotation, balance beam can be a gymnastics team’s worst nightmare. Unless Lindsey Bruck is on its side. On Saturday, with All-American sophomore Bruck on the beam for the Wolverines, women’s gymnastics coach Bev Plocki was completely relaxed.
“When she mounts, I feel very at ease,” Plocki said. “I pretty much know what she’s going to do every time out.”
Bruck approached her best apparatus knowing that she needed a solid routine. Michigan’s other all-around competitor, junior Jenny Deiley, had scored a 9.100 after a fall and another serious mistake during her beam routine.
“I was pretty confident just knowing that I’d hit so many routines in practice,” Bruck said. “I knew that I had to pull together. We had a fall, but that’s what teammates are for — to help each other out.”
Bruck rose to the challenge. She hit a solid routine, scoring a 9.850. This was enough to tie Ohio State senior Elizabeth Meaney for first place in the event and clinch the all-around title with a score of 39.125. Minnesota junior Laura Johnson (38.850) finished second and Deiley (38.525) finished third.
But Bruck’s night did not start out quite as well as it ended. Her floor routine was marred by a step out of bounds — an unusual mistake for a usually consistent performer. Bruck’s score of a 9.725 became a 9.625 due to the mandatory tenth-point deduction given for going out-of-bounds.
Senior Chelsea Kroll suffered a season-ending injury during the event’s three-minute touch warmups. Minutes away from the start of the competition, Kroll was still being helped off the floor. Bruck felt that the injury may have affected her concentration.
“I was a little disappointed with the out of bounds on floor,” Bruck said. “But that’s okay. I pulled together, and it worked out in the end. I wasn’t prepared for that on floor. It was a little bit of a shock. But once we got going, once we felt the energy going through everyone, it was easy to keep it going.”
Bruck carried her momentum onto the vault, an event in which she has had trouble in the past. She competed on vault only five times last season with an average score of 9.500.
“I’m really excited,” Bruck said. “Last year, I struggled with vault. I had an ankle injury in the beginning, and it was hard. But this year I’ve been working hard, trying to get a vault. I’ve been working hard at sticking the landings.”
Bruck scored a solid 9.825, good for a seventh-place finish. Plocki was delighted with Bruck’s effort.
“I thought she had a great vault tonight,” said Plocki. “She has just really demonstrated that she’s mentally a very tough cookie. She’s been just a rock.”
Bruck continued to shine on uneven bars where she placed fourth with a 9.825. The score put her in second place in the all-around heading onto the final apparatus — balance beam.
“Bars and beam are probably two of her best events,” Plocki said. “I never like to jinx anybody, but she’s just been somebody that we know we can count on. It’s great to have that kind of faith in your athletes —-— that you know unless something really fluky happens, they’re going to go out there and do their best and take care of business.”
Bruck’s individual performance contributed immensely to Michigan’s team success. Her scores counted toward the team score in three out of four events in the Wolverines’ win at the Ohio State Quadrangular.
“I was really excited to help the team out,” Bruck said. “I’m just really excited about how the team pulled together. It’s going to be a good year.”