The Michigan women’s gymnastics team was hoping to carry momentum from last weekend’s big win over Georgia in order to earn its fifth-straight Big Ten Title this past Saturday — and it succeeded.
Despite a weak showing on bars that landed the Wolverines in third place halfway through the meet, Michigan left Minneapolis victorious with a score of 196.6.
“I am extremely proud of this team,” Michigan head coach Bev Plocki said. “It is one thing to be in the lead and win a championship, but to be down — at one point in time we were in third place and there was a lot of pressure on balance beam. For them to come back on the last two events and win the championship was impressive.”
Senior Kylee Botterman placed first in floor, while fifth-year senior Jordan Sexton was first on beam. Botterman was runner-up on beam along with senior teammate Sarah Curtis.
“The team did very well today,” senior Kari Pearce said. “Staying focused and staying on our A-game. Bars didn’t go quite as well as we wanted, but it was still good enough to keep us fighting and keep us right in there for the championship. We really had a great performance on beam and floor to close up the meet and capture the championship.”
The freshmen contributed greatly to Michigan’s success this past weekend. Freshman Joanna Sampson placed second on floor with a collegiate-best score of 9.925, while freshman Reema Zakharia placed fourth on bars with a career-best of 9.9.
“The freshmen are just so mentally strong as athletes,” Sexton said. “Coming in, freshman year is always a little bit more difficult because college gymnastics is very different from club gymnastics. These girls get up there and have some great routines and they don’t get nervous — they really go aggressive. That is really awesome, and we need that.”
Sophomores Natalie Beilstein and Katie Zurales also contributed to the success of Michigan, tying for fourth on vault.
“Big Tens is when we come together,” Pearce said. “We have the most energy because it is so much fun going out there and being together and just performing.”
Keeping a positive energy has been a recurring response from the Wolverine gymnasts. And it’s something that has certainly contributed to their success this season.
“We wanted to have fun and enjoy it,” Sexton said. “We had a couple of dance parties in the locker room on our byes.”
Up next, Michigan will host the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships at Crisler Arena on April 2.