A four-point victory in gymnastics is like lapping the field in a NASCAR race – it’s a blowout.
The Michigan women’s gymnastics team raced past Minnesota, 196.875 to 192.850, Saturday at Crisler Arena. The fifth-ranked Wolverines (4-0 Big Ten, 10-0 overall) put up their highest team score of the year to stay perfect for the season.
At the Coaches Care Challenge “Pink Meet,” with proceeds going to cancer patients and their families, three Michigan gymnasts earned career-high scores on their signature events.
Sophomore Sarah Curtis and fifth-year senior Lindsey Bruck also finished 1-2 in the all-around competition.
Freshman Kylee Botterman kicked off the meet with a dominating 9.950 vault score in the first rotation, winning her fourth consecutive vault title. Botterman has earned a vault score of at least 9.925 in each of those meets, and she said she has been doing a lot of landing drills so she can continue the sticking streak.
“Kylee is an amazing vaulter,” freshman Kari Pearce said. “In practice, she nails her vaults and just carries that into the meets. You can always count on her for a stuck vault if you need one.”
Michigan grabbed a .55-point lead after the first rotation and kept widening the gap as the meet progressed.
“It’s always important to get a good start on a meet and feel like you really get those positive juices flowing,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said.
The Wolverines rolled through their second event, uneven bars, posting a 49.475 for their highest team score of the season in the event. Five of six gymnasts finished routines with stuck landings, prompting the pink-clad Crisler crowd to wave colorful “10.0” signs.
Bars has been Michigan’s strongest event all season, but this time, the lineup was unusual in the season-high performance. Two All-Americans – Becky Bernard and Tatjana Thuener-Rego – were out of the lineup with minor nagging injuries. Bernard has missed the last three meets.
“That event this year has been very consistent for us,” Plocki said. “We didn’t even have Becky Bernard in the lineup tonight because her knee is still bothering her. We’ve got potential to be even better.”
Another event where there was potential to improve was the balance beam, Michigan’s most inconsistent event. On Saturday, it was the only event where Michigan failed to place first, and bobbles on each gymnast’s routine kept scores out of the 9.900 range.
But Michigan closed out the meet with its highest floor team score of the season, capping a 4.025-point landslide victory.
One dollar from every ticket sold at the Pink Meet was donated to the Coaches Care Challenge, which benefits the University of Michigan comprehensive cancer center and survivorship program. Free pink T-shirts were given to the first 3,000 fans, turning the crowd into a sea of light pink.
“You just look into the stands and see all the pink and realize how grateful you are for what you can do to help,” Pearce said. “It’s just great knowing what we’re doing this for, where the money from the meet is going.”