The No. 4 Michigan women’s gymnastics team kept its perfect season rolling by crushing three teams at the 28th annual Cat Classic last weekend in Columbia, Mo.
But although it seems nothing can go wrong for the Wolverines (5-0 Big Ten, 14-0 overall), the team’s biggest threat comes to Ann Arbor Friday.
Three-time defending National Champion and No. 1 Georgia will be a challenge unlike any the Wolverines have faced this season. Recently, Michigan has squashed opponents by at least one or two full points, and hasn’t trailed in a meet since Jan. 19.
But the Wolverines weren’t thinking ahead to Georgia when they took to the mats at the Cat Classic. Instead, they focused on maintaining momentum from a season-high 197.125 points in a victory over North Carolina State Feb. 22.
While Friday’s 196.200 team score was Michigan’s third-lowest of the season, it was more than enough to defeat No. 14 Missouri, No. 22 Ohio State and California.
Michigan coach Bev Plocki said the low score couldn’t be attributed to low-quality performances.
“The way that our competition was judged was extremely tight,” Plocki said. “We had a very good performance, but we came away with a not-so-stellar score.”
Michigan dominated on floor and vault in the first two rotations and built an early lead. Freshman Kylee Botterman picked up the floor title, while sophomore Sarah Curtis grabbed the vault title (9.900) along with runner-up honors in the all-around competition.
But the Wolverines struggled more than usual.
Tough scoring on the beam, Michigan’s most inconsistent event all season, contributed to the below-average final score. With a mediocre performance (48.975), the event score was one of the lowest this season.
But the real surprise came on uneven bars.
Generally one of the highest scoring events for the Wolverines, the bars squad ran into trouble Friday night and posted a season-low score.
Junior Becky Bernard was the only Wolverine to score in the 9.900-range, which was strong enough for her fourth uneven bars title of the season.
Plocki saw the tough scoring as an opportunity to improve. The Wolverines are now concentrating on fixing little mistakes.
“This is the unfortunate thing about our sport,” Plocki said. “It’s absolutely subjective. The only thing you can do in those situations is go back and say we cannot give them room to take those half-point deductions.”
And just four days away from the defining meet of this season, the Wolverines hope to tighten routines as they prepare for Georgia to visit Crisler Arena.