At 5-foot-5, junior Jenny Deiley is tall for a gymnast. But Deiley uses her height, which is normally construed as a disadvantage in her sport, to accentuate her artistic performance.

“She has such a flair for the dramatic,” coach Beverly Plocki said. “She’s very beautiful to watch. I think the artistry of her gymnastics is one of her strengths. It’s very captivating to watch her.”

Deiley started her career as a Wolverine with a bang. As a freshman, she made the NCAA All-America first team in the all-around. After setting a Michigan record for most all-around scores of 39.000 or higher (out of a possible 40) in a single season, Deiley suffered an ankle injury last year.

“I’m very consistent, but one of my weaknesses is that I get very frustrated,” Deiley said. “Last year, overcoming an injury was frustrating, but it was a very good learning experience for me. I think I’ve completely recovered, and I feel a lot stronger coming in. I’m more confident and ready for the season.”

Deiley debuted at Michigan with an incredible freshman campaign, and, after two years at the college level, she has learned the college system and settled into a routine. Deiley said her experience has added to her calm approach to competition. Plocki agrees.

“I think that this season has even more potential than her freshman year because she has a great deal more experience,” Plocki said. “Her maturity and her ability — the way she approaches competition — will be a great asset to her. She’s very levelheaded. She has a very calm demeanor when she approaches competition.”

Along with experience comes responsibility. Because of Deiley’s maturity and ability to consistently perform well, Plocki will be looking for her to step into a leadership role for the younger gymnasts.

“I think I contribute most through how I present myself,” Deiley said. “I always come calm and ready, and I think that relaxes people with less experience. I hope to lead by example with my work ethic and how I come prepared for things.”

Like every gymnast, Deiley knows what it’s like to feel pain. Often bothered by a sore ankle or tendonitis in her knees, she still competes and practices every day and fights through the pain.

“When she’s not feeling good, she can take a landing and it’s like she’s going for an academy award,” Plocki said. “And then she’ll shake it off and three minutes later, she’s back up there doing another tumbling pass. I know that when she’s hurting, I know she’s really hurting. But she’s always able to walk into the corner, shake it off and get back up there and do what she knows she needs to do.”

Because of her love for the dramatic, it’s no surprise that Deiley’s favorite apparatus is the floor exercise, where she can let the inner performer and dancer out.

“She’s just a great, funny kid and she’s an absolute pleasure to coach and be around,” Plocki said. “I think that this could be a great year for her. She could accomplish an awful lot in a lot of different areas.”

After placing fourth in the all-around against Nebraska this past weekend, even with a fall on the floor exercise, Deiley hopes that this season will end with a good finish at the NCAA Championships and a team national title.

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