YPSILANTI – 10.0. The elusive perfect score.
When freshman Kylee Botterman, the final Michigan vaulter, stuck her dismount to seal the victory in the State of Michigan Classic, the rest of the fifth-ranked Wolverines sprinted to her, screaming and pumping their fists.
One of the judges displayed a 10.0 score, jolting the small crowd of Michigan parents to their feet.
Michigan’s first perfect score of the season closed out the team’s dominating 196.800-point performance against Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan and Michigan State.
“The energy on vault was just amazing,” junior Huneth Lor said. “Everyone was just hitting and hitting – it was amazing.”
Michigan closed the door shut on the competition with five stuck dismounts on vault, on its way to the fifth-highest team vault score in program history.
Coming into the final event, Michigan had a comfortable lead of almost a full point over the four intra-state teams. Only No. 24 Michigan State, defending champion, pulled within two and a half points of the Wolverines’ season-high score.
Even with less-than-stellar conditions – bad lighting, a soft floor and a hostile away crowd – Michigan’s gymnasts brought their own energy and enthusiasm to the mats.
“This was a hard meet for us to get up for,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “I talked to the girls ahead of time saying, ‘You have to have the energy, you have to focus. Great teams will make adjustments. You make it work.’ “
The Wolverines nailed every routine despite last-minute lineup changes due to injuries.
Junior Becky Bernard and senior Katie Lieberman took the weekend off with minor injuries. Bernard, the Big Ten leader in bars and beam, tried a beam dismount in warmups, but her knee was “hurting and pinching,” Plocki said.
Freshman Trish Wilson and Junior Tatjana Thuener-Rego replaced Bernard just prior to the events. Both substitutes performed solid routines.
“If one person isn’t competing, we always have another person to jump in,” Lor said. “We did it a lot last year, so it’s nothing new for us.”
After the meet, there was something else familiar – a slew of awards.
Fifth-year senior Lindsey Bruck captured her second-consecutive and ninth-career all-around title with a score of 39.375. A Wolverine won each event, and Michigan swept the vault awards entirely.
With just one home meet this month, Michigan looks to build off of its success in an unfamiliar environment.
“I couldn’t be any happier,” Plocki said. “This is very important for us to have this kind of away score.”