There is no looking back for the No. 10 Michigan women’s gymnastics team as it hosts the NCAA Northeast Regional Saturday at Crisler Arena.
Last year at regionals, the Wolverines admittedly did not have their best meet of the season, and were given a gift by Iowa, which choked on the floor on the last rotation. But Michigan isn’t focusing on that performance, as it looks to make a run to the NCAA Championships.
“I don’t think this team has any thought whatsoever about what happened last year,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said.
Junior Calli Ryals echoed Plocki’s sentiments.
“The team’s pretty young – a lot of the girls that went through it last year aren’t even on the team anymore,” Ryals said.
The Wolverines are coming off their best meet of the year. Michigan won its fifth-straight Big Ten championship two weekends ago in Champaign, posting a season high score of 197.450. The Wolverines were strong on every rotation, especially bars and floor exercise.
In doing so, they built some confidence that has carried over.
“I think we’re still feeding off Big Tens,” Ryals said.
The Wolverines had a much-deserved break last weekend, and they took full advantage.
“I think right now, having the weekend off was what we needed to try to rest our bodies,” Plocki said. “At this point, it’s as important as any amount of training.”
The Wolverines will need a similar showing this weekend to move on in the postseason. The top two teams in each of the six regions will go to Lincoln, Neb. to compete at Nationals. No. 3 Arizona State, No. 15 Iowa State and dark horse Penn State will make life difficult for Michigan, while Pittsburgh and New Hampshire round out the field. Michigan will have little room for error.
“From here on out, we’re not going to be able to afford to count any breaks,” Plocki said.
“We need to bring our ‘A’ game,” assistant coach Scott Sherman said.
The Wolverines put together their best beam performance of the year in practice yesterday, which is encouraging since they will be ending on beam at Regionals. And being at Crisler Arena may be a little less desirable than Cliff Keen Arena, but there should be more fans to cheer the team on.
“Cliff Keen’s a lot more cozy,” Ryals said. “(But) Crisler’s definitely better than going to Arizona State.”
The Wolverines will be going for their 11th straight NCAA Championship berth and 12th overall, as well as their sixth regional championship. And being in front of the large home crowd should bring out the best in a team that seems to perform better the bigger the arena.
“We’ve got a number of kids on our team that really pick it up a notch when they’re in front of a crowd,” Sherman said.
“Our job is to go out there and hit, and if we hit, I think we have a good chance of going on to Nationals,” Plocki said.