The look on Janessa Grieco’s face said it all. At first glance, Grieco appeared to be on cloud nine as she stood in Crisler Arena being honored as the lone senior on the Michigan women’s gymnastics team. But upon closer inspection, it was evident that Grieco was not completely happy.
“It was definitely an emotional night,” Grieco said. “All day I couldn’t believe it was happening and every time someone gave me a card, I’d start crying again, so you know, it’s bittersweet. It’s nice to be home and have all your fans here, but it’s kind of sad to know that it’s all coming to an end.”
While Michigan narrowly lost to No. 4 Nebraska (3-0 Big 12, 16-1 overall) 197.500-197.225, Grieco gave fans something to cheer about, tying for second on the balance beam with a score of 9.875, placing fifth on floor by scoring 9.925 and also setting her career-high in the all-around with a 39.475.
Michigan freshman Jenny Deiley stole some of the show from Grieco, winning the balance beam and tying for first on vault. Like Grieco, she also set her career high in the all-around with a score of 39.675, which amazingly did not net her the all-around title, but put her second on the podium. Nebraska’s Michelle Simpson, one of the top gymnasts in the country, put on a show that included a perfect 10 on the floor exercise en route to snatching the all-around title right from Deiley’s hands.
“It was great,” Deiley said. “I’m finally getting really consistent (to the point that) I can get 9.9s all the time.”
Despite losing by a narrow margin, the Wolverines (2-1 Big Ten, 9-6 overall) showed many reasons for excitement. Michigan set its season-high score for the second straight week against a top-five opponent. In addition, the Wolverines also eclipsed their prior high score on floor with a 49.575 that included 9.95’s from both Deiley and junior Calli Ryals, who has been dealing with the death of her grandfather.
What makes these season highs more impressive is the fact that the Wolverines also made a few mistakes that showed that they could have done even better.
“To come within three tenths of Nebraska and having those couple of miscues, I think (it) should give our team a lot of confidence going into the postseason that we’re capable of beating these teams,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “But we have to pull it all together, and we have to be at our very best.”
Plocki was also quick to note that even though the results may not have come out like she desired, the meet was a positive thing overall for the team.
“We’ve lost to UCLA and we’ve lost to some other big teams, (such as) Nebraska tonight, but those losses have all been by pretty narrow margins,” Plocki said. “We had some areas (that have been lacking), so I think that even the losses have helped our confidence because we’ve seen everybody. There are very few teams at nationals that we haven’t seen and competed against. I don’t think that any of those teams are out of our reach, and I think that our kids feel that same way. That’s a very good feeling of confidence heading into the postseason.”