The seniors on the Michigan women’s gymnastics team already have their lives ahead of them planned. Shannon MacKenzie is going to be a teacher. Amy Kuczera is going to graduate school in physical therapy. Jodie Rosenberg wants to go to graduate school to be a physician’s assistant and Melissa Peterson is going into consulting.
But on Saturday the seniors proved that they still had competitive fire in them as they led the Wolverines on senior night to their second-highest score in school history.
“It was emotional but it was also very exciting,” Kuczera said after scoring 9.775s on the balance beam and uneven bars. “To see the crowd one last time and to have such a great meet puts a really good end to my career here at home.”
Kuczera and the senior class are responsible for some of Michigan’s greatest accomplishments. The seniors have yet to lose a Big Ten Tournament or NCAA Regional Championship and have only lost once to another Big Ten team.
“I’m just so proud to see these kids, that I remember back as freshmen, come so far,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “And I think their younger teammates were able to dig down deeper and compete even better when they realized what this meant to the seniors.”
And Plocki’s Wolverines did perform better than they had all year. But it not without the help of Rosenberg and MacKenzie – two former walk-ons.
MacKenzie competed in the all-around, and Rosenberg scored a career high 9.9 on her last event at Crisler Arena, the floor exercise.
“I’ve been waiting for the 9.9,” Rosenberg said with a smile after finishing fourth overall on the rotation. “I kept getting 9.8s, 9.85s on floor, so it was really exciting to get rewarded for everything.”
“I think Jodie’s floor routine was probably the best routine I’ve seen her do,” Plocki said. “Her tumbling was rock solid, her dance was great. I’m so glad she got a 9.9.”
Rosenberg also competed on the other three events as exhibitions, something Plocki said she always tries to let her seniors do at their last home meet.
But MacKenzie didn’t need to compete in any events as just ‘exhibitions,’ because she was competing in the all-around for just the third time this year.
She scored a 9.825 on the beam, a 9.45 on the uneven bars, a 9.1 on the floor, and finished third overall with a 9.9 on the vault.
“Knowing that I’m coming to a close of a gymnastics career after 19 years is pretty emotional,” said MacKenzie, who has a 3.7 GPA and whom Plocki called the most improved gymnast in the history of her program.
“I can’t say I’m disappointed (with my scores) today,” MacKenzie said. “I have to look back at it all, and when I do that I get a little teary.”