The annual Maize and Blue Intrasquad marks an exciting time for
the Michigan women’s gymnastics team. It signifies the end of
the preseason and a leap into territory where mistakes now result
in costly point deductions. Although the intrasquad was an
exhibition, it had the feel of the regular season with the presence
of judges and 882 fans inside Cliff Keen Arena.

Mira Levitan
Senior Calli Ryals pulled off the top performance for the Wolverines yesrterday at the annual Maize and Blue Intrasquad, which took place in front of 882 fans at Cliff Keen Arena. (TONY DING/Daily)

This year, the Blue team finished on top with a score of 116.600
compared to the Maize’s 115.700. Overall, it was a good night
for the Wolverines.

“I’m really pleased with how everything went,”
coach Bev Plocki said. “We had few mistakes, and I think the
mistakes that we did have were first time, nervous, jittery kinds
of things that were really more mental mistakes than physical
mistakes.”

The top three performances in the all-around were compiled by
Calli Ryals (39.125), Jenny Deiley (39.000) and Elise Ray (38.950).
Ray, who was forced to sit out the entire 2003 season due to
sholder surgery, won two events on the night. She finished first on
the balance beam (9.850) and tied junior Lauren Mirkovich for first
on the uneven bars (9.825).

“I’m so pleased and excited to see Elise back in the
lineup, it’s wonderful to see her back,” Plocki
said.

Deiley also earned two first-place finishes, placing above her
teammates on both the floor exercise (9.825) and the vault
(9.825).

Plocki noted that she was glad to see the freshmen out there
competing. The intrasquad is especially useful for freshmen because
it allows them to get their feet wet and compete at the collegiate
level without the pressure of a regular-season match.

The enthusiasm and eagerness of the team to get the season
started was evident from anywhere inside Cliff Keen Arena. While
competing, each athlete showed great concentration. But in between
events, the team was showing smiles and cheering each other on.
There was not one performance that took place without encouraging
voices from coaches and teammates being heard.

“I know that the girls are really fired up, and I’m
really fired up for this year,” Plocki said. “We did a
lot of really good things tonight.”

At the beginning of a season, many teams identify specific goals
for the road ahead. Plocki knows that the ultimate goal for a
program of this caliber is always a national championship, but she
is careful to make sure that the team never looks too far ahead and
is always concentrating on the task at hand.

“We’re always really careful not to let a national
championship be our only focus,” Plocki said.

“We always want to continue to improve every single meet
through the season.

“Winning a Big Ten title is always the number one goal in
the postseason, and we never look past that.”

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