All good dreams must come to an end, and for the injury-plagued Michigan women’s gymnastics team, that end was one to be proud of.
The Wolverines placed fifth in the NCAA Super Six Team Finals with a score of 196.050. The fifth place finish is the seventh top-five finish nationally in school history. UCLA, who edged Michigan in a dual meet earlier in the season, won the event with a score of 197.825.
After beginning with a 49.075 on the balance beam in the first rotation, the Wolverines nailed down a solid floor routine in the third rotation, earning a score of 49.225. Junior Calli Ryals paced Michigan in both events with scores of 9.875 and 9.900 respectively.
After the third rotation was completed, UCLA held the top spot, but the next four teams were all within six-tenths of a point of the Bruins. The Wolverines were one of those teams, and Michigan held to fourth place with a score of 98.200.
Michigan’s hopes of bringing home the school’s first national championship came crashing down after the team posted a 48.950 on vault in the fourth rotation. The score was the only vault mark below 49.000 in the meet. Michigan finished the meet with an even worse score of 48.800 on uneven bars.
Even though the team did not close the meet out well, Michigan coach Bev Plocki was still upbeat about her team’s performance.
“I’m extremely pleased,” Plocki said. “I would have liked to have finished a little stronger on our last event, but we hit the first 18 routines before we came to bars. We weren’t quite as polished as we could have been, but that’s a lot of pressure.”
The fact that the Wolverines even managed to get to the Super Six is a testament to the hard-work and determination the gymnasts have put in this year. Plocki noted that she asked the team before the meet how many people had actually competed in a Super Six, and of the four athletes that raised their hands, two were injured, including junior team captain and former Olympian Elise Ray.
“We’ve had a season (of) ups and downs this year,” Ryals said. “This whole season has been a challenge for us. A lot of girls who hadn’t competed on certain events had to step it up and that was a big challenge for us. I think having a young team is just going to make us stronger for years to come because we have a young team that got a lot of experience out of this year.”
With Janessa Grieco being the lone senior graduating this year, the Wolverines should be a familiar bunch next season, and that has Plocki chomping at the bit.
“We’ve already been talking about how awesome next year is going to seem because of how much some of these athletes have grown this year,” Plocki said. “Lots of them have developed in ways that they may not have if we had been healthy.”
Plocki has turned Michigan into a gymnastics powerhouse during her career, and there’s no reason to think that the Wolverines won’t be in a familiar position when spring rolls around next year.