In women”s gymnastics, it”s always important to be prepared.
Saturday night at the NCAA Regionals, Michigan women”s gymnastics coach Bev Plocki had senior Bridget Knaeble replace longtime regular Karina Senior on the balance beam.
“I had been giving it some consideration for a while,” Plocki said. “Bridget”s workouts had been going very well at practice, and I made the decision to put her in.”
Fortunately for Plocki and the rest of the Wolverines, Knaeble was more than prepared.
With Michigan freshman Calli Ryals having already suffered a fall on the beam, the final four Michigan competitors knew another fall would prove costly. But Knaeble seemed to be unaffected by the pressure, scoring an impressive 9.875 on the event en route to winning the all-around competition and tying her career-high with a 39.525.
“I”m always prepared to go into the lineup when needed,” Knaeble said. “We all practice every event so we”re always ready.
“We had three strong events and I felt confident about what we could do on the beam. But not being in the beam lineup that often, I was pretty nervous.”
Knaeble had competed on the beam just four times this season before the regionals. She opened the season competing in all four events, but after two poor performances, she was replaced in favor of Karina Senior, who had been performing well at the time. Knaeble returned to the lineup later on in the season for two meets while Senior was under the weather but was not given the spot permanently.
With Senior suffering falls on the beam against West Virginia and at the Big Ten Championships the two meets prior to regionals Knaeble began to emerge as Michigan”s most consistent performer week-by-week.
For Plocki, the change was a difficult decision to make, but one that worked out in the end.
“We really have eight great people who can do the job,” Plocki said. “We can only choose six. It was really between Karina, Bridget, and Cami (Singer). I talked to them and I told them it was a difficult decision to make, but I am sure that they understand.”
With the NCAA Championships rapidly approaching, Plocki now has yet another tough decision to make: Who will round out the beam lineup in Georgia?
Knaeble proved her ability to perform under pressure this past weekend, but with more appearances on the beam this season, Senior might be a safer choice.
“I am going to see how practices go this week and make my decision based on that,” Plocki said. “I will make a decision prior to our departure though.”
Knaeble, as usual, is ready for anything.
“It”s up to Bev (Plocki) and how everything goes at practice,” Knaeble said. “It”s kind of a toss up every week, so I just have to wait and see how things go.”