The beam reared its ugly head again at the NCAA Super Six Championships this past Saturday in Cleveland for the Michigan women’s gymnastics team.
In the postseason, the balance beam has been the primary source of adversity for the Wolverines, but they had not counted a fall on the event until this meet.
Aside from beam, Michigan put together three solid events this past Saturday — including the night’s highest uneven bars score (49.375) and the third best floor routine of the meet (49.225).
The Wolverines finished with a 196.425 total en route to last place in the NCAA Super Six — their first appearance since 2005. Michigan trailed fifth-place Utah by 0.075 points. Alabama won the NCAA Championship and UCLA followed in second.
“I don’t know what we can attribute this loss to,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “I don’t think any coach can tell you exactly what happens when things go wrong. This is a sport where the tiniest error can mean the difference between success and complete failure. We just have to take it in stride and be grateful for the fact that we were at the Super Six Championship and try and build on that for next year.”
Although no one openly talked about it, senior Jordan Sexton’s low-scoring performance played a significant role in the loss for the Wolverines. She fell twice in competition, once on beam and again during the floor exercise.
The team rallied around her to pick up the slack, but because Sexton has played such an integral scoring role on the team this season, Michigan had a hard time succeeding without her firing on all cylinders.
“(Sexton) has been very consistent all year,” senior captain Kylee Botterman said. “I can’t tell you what’s going through her mind right now. She just had an off night.”
Botterman was named the top All-Around gymnast of the night after posting a 39.300 for Michigan — 0.050 points higher than her national title winning score in the semifinals the day before. The Super Six Championships completed a stand-out season for Botterman which has given her and Michigan a slew of accolades.
This past Thursday, she became the first-ever Michigan gymnast to win the AAI Award, given to the top gymnast in the NCAA. Botterman is also in the running to take home the prestigious Honda Award — given to the top gymnast in the country as voted by the coaches — for her amazing performance this season, but she would trade all of her individual awards for a team national title.
“I would trade it all in a heartbeat,” Botterman said. “Every time I’m up on an event, every competition, I’m trying to do my best for the team.”
This season, Michigan thrived on the talents of its seniors like Botterman, Sexton and Trish Wilson. Plocki is optimistic about the future of the program.
“Coming to the championships has been a tremendous experience for our seven freshman to start out their career with,” Plocki said. “It makes a real difference when you can get a group of kids together who will be back next year and show them what to expect in the future. I hope that we will be an even stronger team next year.”