Ten years ago women”s gymnastic coach Bev Plocki”s team was decimated by serious injuries.
“We had torn ACLs, we had broken bones, we had everything,” Plocki remembers. “And every time we thought it couldn”t get worse it did.”
Remarkably, Plocki”s 1992 team was able to piece together numerous lineups and eventually win the school”s first Big Ten championship.
“We did it because our kids had persevered through so much with all the injuries that by the time our kids got to the Big Ten Tournament, they were so focused and wanted it so much that nothing stopped them.”
While this year”s team has yet to lose anyone for the season, three Wolverines including last year”s national all-around champion Elise Ray have been hampered with nagging injuries that don”t seem to go away.
But that didn”t stop No. 9 Michigan (2-0 Big Ten, 4-2 overall) from putting together previously unused rotations and having two consecutive successful weekends.
The Wolverines defeated Minnesota 195.125-195.025 two weeks ago and then scored a season high 196.175 to easily beat Ohio State last Saturday.
Does Plocki see any similarities between her team this year and her team from 10 years ago?
“Absolutely,” she said, “I see someone like senior Shannon MacKenzie who came to this program thinking she was only going to be a beam specialist go out there and compete in the all-around.”
And MacKenzie isn”t the only one.
“Senior Jodie Rosenberg, another walk-on gymnast from Michigan, who thought she would never do anything but the floor exercise competed in three events (floor, vault and uneven bars) for us.”
Another walk-on, freshman Kara Rosella, has pleasantly surprised Plocki with her consistently solid performances on the beam always a tough event for Michigan.
All three of them should play a pivotal role in both of this weekend”s meets, when Michigan faces No. 13 Florida on Friday and then travels to Ypsilanti on Sunday to compete in the State of Michigan Classic against Michigan State, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan,
It will be the first time that the Wolverines will have two days of competition over a three-day span this season.
“Ordinarily if we as an entire team were feeling great and all feeling healthy, I would say that it”s good for us to start learning how to compete in two meets on a weekend because when we go to the National Championships we have to compete three days in a row to go all the way,” Plocki said.
While Calli Ryals has been competing her best floor routine ever, fellow sophomore Ray has only been able to compete on the beam and bars this year because of a bruised heel.
“(My heel) is definitely getting better,” Ray said, “I”m doing a little bit more each practice. I”ve started to vault today, and I”ll try tumbling tomorrow. I”m going on pain right now, but it”s definitely getting better.”