The Michigan women’s gymnastics team got a gift this weekend, and the card that came along with it had an interesting message: Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

J. Brady McCollough
Calli Ryals finished second in the all-around to help Michigan to a win Saturday.

The gift was given by some higher power to the Wolverines (6-4) on Saturday. Michigan eked out a victory in a tri-meet against West Virginia (5-2) and Kent State (6-4), scoring a 195.4. The Mountaineers recorded a 195.225, while the Golden Flashes posted a 194.925.

As the second rotation came around, Michigan looked to be in good position, having already scored a 49.35 on vault. But the uneven bars had a nasty surprise waiting for the home team. In something almost unheard of in collegiate gymnastics (especially at Michigan), the Wolverines fell not once, not twice, not three times, but four times.

The result was the Wolverines had to count two falls, and this led to a putrid 47.35 composite score. Fortunately, both Kent State and West Virginia would falter down the road, allowing the Wolverines to win in the fourth rotation.

“You’ve got to try and look at the positive in a situation,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “Am I disappointed with bars? Absolutely.

“But what I think overshadows that is the fact that we probably had three events that were our season high, and even more important than that, the fact that we recovered from such a devastating event and came back on beam and floor and rocked the way that we did in the last two events and were able to pull it out.”

The beam breathed some life into the Wolverines. Senior captain Janessa Grieco led the way with a 9.925, good enough to win the individual beam title. Sophomore Chelsea Kroll also chipped in with a 9.9. Michigan then brought the floor routine to its knees, with three gymnasts scoring 9.9 or higher.

Had the Wolverines not won, it would have marked the second meet in the span of six days that they were not on the top of the podium. Last Sunday, the Wolverines finished third out of five teams in the State of Michigan Classic, an event that they have always dominated.

“Sunday we got in a hole, and we continued to spiral downward,” Plocki said. “That’s why I was so consumed with trying to talk to them … (and tell them that) every event you go to is new life.

“If you have a problem on bars, you have to be able to put that behind you and go to beam and be just as aggressive and just as confident (as if everything had gone well on bars).”

One bright spot for the Wolverines was the performance of the two freshmen in the lineup, Jenny Deiley and Becca Clauson. Deiley took the all-around title with a career high 39.525, and also won the bar title with a 9.9. Clauson and Deiley split the vault title by scoring a pair of 9.9’s.

“The freshmen absolutely have come to our rescue all season long,” Plocki said. “We knew they were capable of this, but as freshmen, you never know if they’re going to come in and do what they’re capable of right away, or if it is going to take them a little bit of time to transition to college.”

On a day of highs and lows, the Wolverines showed what they are made of by clawing their way back to defend their home territory.

“Every meet is not going to be perfect,” Grieco said.

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