It’s a rare occurrence when Michigan fans applaud Ohio State.
But on Friday, fans at the women’s gymnastics home opener were seemingly unaware of this fact. The excited crowd at Crisler Arena cheered both teams alike as the fourth-ranked Wolverines captured a decisive 195.900-192.000 victory over 36th-ranked Buckeyes. The extra enthusiasm boosted the Wolverines (2-0 Big Ten, 4-0-1 overall) to some of their best performances of the season.
Michigan coach Bev Plocki noted how the team’s preparation and the atmosphere each factored into her squad success.
“We’ve been working on the things we knew we needed to work on,” Plocki said. “The extra excitement and adrenaline of this being our first home meet and the great crowd. It was a combination of things, but we still certainly have room to improve.”
One event Plocki wants her team to work on is the vault – where the Wolverines started on Friday. Although vault is Michigan’s lowest-ranked event, the team still managed to gain a 0.225 advantage over the Buckeyes (0-2, 3-2) to lead 48.775- 48.550 heading into the second rotation. For future competitions, the Wolverines will work on landings to try and capture bigger leads earlier in the meet.
Once they made it to the uneven bars, the Wolverines took command of the meet. Senior Lauren Mirkovich scored a 9.900, and senior Jenny Deiley and freshman Tatjana Thuener-Rego each grabbed scores of 9.800. The trio’s performance helped push Michigan to a 2.025 point lead over the Buckeyes.
Next up for Michigan was the beam. Deiley, the night’s all-around winner, registered a solid score of 9.850, which proved impossible to top. Michigan sophomore Nellie Kippley came close with her 9.825, as did junior Carol McNamara with a 9.800. Kippley and McNamara finished second and third, respectively, on beam. The Buckeyes’ highest beam score was 9.650.
Leading Ohio State by 2.475 entering the final rotation, Michigan carried its momentum through the floor routine for a combined floor score of 49.225, a season best. Solid performances from Deiley (9.875), Thuener-Rego (9.875) and senior Becca Clauson (9.850) greatly contributed to Michigan’s victory with hefty scores.
Although it was not the first time the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes – Friday was Michigan’s 26th consecutive victory – it was an important night for Thuener-Rego, who earned the first floor title of her collegiate career. But she had her focus on another event.
“I really wanted to do good, solid beam,” she said. “I have been in the last two meets, so I’m really happy about that.”
Perhaps the star of the evening was Deiley, who had one of her best meets ever. For her, it was a matter of having everything come together in every event during the meet.
“I have been making my routines, but not necessarily hitting them,” Deiley said. “I needed to have a meet like this personally so I can start back on the right track. I was kind of in a rut, and I needed to get out of that. I was really focused today and really confident.”
The Wolverines seem to be on the right track so far. The crowd at Crisler was excited to see them looking sharp and solid in all events. Michigan made it through the night with just one fall and consistently built upon its early lead, ending with the stellar floor rotation. Deiley knows her team’s win will motivate them to improve for the rest of the season.
“We’re ranked high, but not No. 1,” Deiley said. “We have room for improvement, and we have a lot of potential this year.”
The Wolverines hope to keep up their winning ways next week at the State of Michigan Classic. The tournament takes place in Mount Pleasant. The team dominated the field last year, besting a field consisting of the four other Division I schools in the state.