Freshman Jackie Kramer landed her dismount after a flawless balance beam routine and was shocked.
Kramer had just put together the best beam performance of her life.
In the Wolverines’ 196.675-196.100 losing effort against No. 18 Missouri (11-6) on Friday, Kramer was a huge force in the team’s second-highest home score of the season. Kramer, who before Friday had yet to win an individual title, put up career bests on beam (9.900) and floor exercise (9.875). Kramer’s beam score not only gave the West Hills, N.Y., native her first collegiate individual title, but also more confidence than she has had all season.
“It’s amazing; I don’t even have words,” Kramer said. “I wasn’t even expecting to compete this season. Just getting a chance to be in the lineup is amazing.”
Said Michigan coach Bev Plocki: “We have people like Jackie who exceed anything. I am so ecstatic. When that score came up she was just quivering. She was so excited and happy.”
Friday marked yet another surprisingly solid performance by a team plagued by injuries.
With three all-around competitors out for the season, it seems kind of ridiculous that Michigan (2-2 Big Ten, 10-5 overall) could still be ranked 11th in the country.
“This year, these kids never cease to amaze me,” Plocki said. “In terms of taking a bad situation and turning it into the best possible thing that they can. We come into this meet, and not only are we down all the people that we’ve been down, we’re without Nellie Kippley and we’re without Tatjana Thuener-Rego, and we still continue to have kids step into lineups and do the very best job that they can.”
Without junior all-around gymnast Kippley, who was suffering from symptoms of a concussion, and with sophomore all-around gymnast Thuener-Rego just performing on the uneven bars and balance beam because of chronic back problems, the team outperformed all expectations.
The Wolverines scored just .4 below their season high and scored above their regional qualifying score, the statistic used to determine postseason seedings.
Sophomore Becky Bernard was a big reason for the high score. Competing in the first all-around of her career, Bernard scored a 39.300, including a career-best 9.900 on floor. Her 9.925 on bars led to her third beam title of the season.
Senior Carol McNamara had season-high scores on vault (9.850) and floor (9.800).
If Kippley and Thuener-Rego can be back to full strength come postseason competition, who knows how far this injury-ridden team can go.
And with just one regular-season meet left, the Wolverines will look to cap off a difficult-yet-successful season.
No matter what happens though, the resilient Wolverines and Plocki have clearly made the most of a bad situation.
“Just all the way around, I can’t ever remember ever being so proud of a team,” Plocki said.