While the Michigan women’s gymnastics team’s record might be squeaky clean, its bill of health isn’t.
Three all-Americans – juniors Becky Bernard and Tatjana Thuener-Rego and senior Katie Lieberman – sat out of the lineup last weekend with minor injuries. The fourth-ranked Wolverines looked to younger gymnasts to hit routines and maintain the team’s undefeated record. They did.
“This year is just amazing because we have so much depth,” Lieberman said. “It’s amazing how many people have been able to step in and even on short notice, they’ve been able to pull through and come out with a good score or just a nice routine.”
Freshmen Trish Wilson and Kylee Botterman were two of the underclassmen who responded to last-minute adjustments and posted impressive scores.
Wilson jumped into beam and floor lineups two weeks ago at the State of Michigan Classic when Lieberman and Bernard didn’t compete. She hit both routines despite having less time than usual to warm up.
Botterman joined the bars lineup the following week. She placed third in the event over the weekend against Minnesota, posting a solid 9.900 score.
“I like to prepare myself for everything,” Botterman said. “Even if I only end up doing two events in a meet, I still prepare myself for four just in case something happens and I have to step in.”
This ready-for-anything mental preparation is nothing new for the Wolverines.
Last season, three Wolverines suffered season-ending injuries in the first two meets of the season. Michigan managed to salvage the season and posted a 17-5 final record. But the roster was thin, and the team faltered at Nationals, finishing the season at No. 11.
But this year’s team is different.
“We have had lots of changes in the lineup this year because we’ve finally got a team where we’ve got some depth,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “Last year, we were so riddled with injuries that we didn’t have any options to change the lineup.”
While she is excited to see gymnasts step into the spotlight and gain more experience, Plocki is concerned about the veterans’ recovery.
Minor injuries hit all three gymnasts at once, taking them out of the lineup this weekend.
Bernard has been out for the past three weeks with a knee injury. Thuener-Rego woke up one day last week with a swollen wrist.
Lieberman’s bad knees were aggravated midway through Saturday’s meet, forcing her to pull out of the floor lineup just before the event.
After waking up last Thursday, Thuener-Rego noticed her wrist was swollen. X-rays showed no sign of a fracture.
“It’s a mystery,” Plocki said. “She had a sleeping incident. How long can you be hurt from sleeping?”
All three gymnasts expect to be back in action next Friday when Michigan takes on North Carolina State.