Husker Country hasn’t been friendly territory for the Wolverines.
The Michigan women’s gymnastics team had never won at Nebraska in the regular season.
But last night, No. 5 Michigan broke tradition and defeated No. 12 Nebraska, 196.575-196.075.
Coming off a season-high team performance last weekend at the State of Michigan Classic, the Wolverines weren’t shooting for the stars on four days of rest with just two practice days.
“It was more about doing quality routines than quantity,” fifth-year senior Lindsey Bruck said. “But everyone did a great job in practice and kept the momentum going into this meet.”
Michigan put up solid scores in bars and vault, its two strongest events, to kick off the meet. Freshman Kylee Botterman earned her third straight vault title.
After cruising past recent opponents, the Wolverines (3-0 Big Ten, 9-0 overall) found themselves in a tight contest down the stretch, a rarity this season.
But the final gymnasts put up the high scores they needed on beam, the team’s final event, to edge the Huskers (2-1 Big 12, 3-3 overall).
Beam has been a trouble spot for the Wolverines this season, and there was no shortage of drama last night.
After the three solid beam routines, Sarah Curtis, the Big Ten’s all-around leader coming into the meet, suddenly fell.
Enter sophomore Jordan Sexton.
Injured all last season, last night was Sexton’s second event performance of the year.
But Sexton, Bruck said, “went out there like a veteran.”
Sexton stuck her landing, capping off a 9.875-point performance. The score earned her the first event title of her career.
“I had been working on a new series and I hadn’t competed with it yet,” Sexton said. “I didn’t know if I should just play it safe, but I got up there and felt good, so I just went for it and nailed it.”
It seems each week a Wolverine who suffered an injury last year makes the meet-changing routine. Michigan coach Bev Plocki said she “couldn’t even script it that way.”
This could be the Hollywood season for the Wolverines, as they take their unblemished record back to Ann Arbor.
“This was our first true test of the season,” Plocki said. “I’m really proud that we hung in there and didn’t count any falls. And against a great team that’s Super Six caliber, this was really good.”