Stick your landings!

Roshan Reddy
Deiley on the balance beam en route to an individual all-around first place finish against Utah. (JUSTIN BASS/DAILY)

These words will ring in the heads of every Michigan gymnast after Saturday night’s meet against No. 2 Utah. Starting the night on vault, the Wolverines took a step or a hop on all six landings and failed to post a single score above a 9.80. After the first rotation, No. 4 Michigan fell seven-tenths of a point behind the Utes, who started on bars. The Wolverines just couldn’t climb back into contention and lost for the first time this season, 196.400 to 196.100.

“Vault is the area that we as a team need to improve on the most,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “(Tatjana Thuener Rego is) upset because she touched down on floor. But I said, ‘You know ladies, it wasn’t a wobble on beam or a touchdown on floor. It was vaulting. We as a team need to go back to the gym. What are we going to do to improve our vaulting?’ Because we can compete with anybody in the country if we get vault where it’s capable of being. Until we do that, we’re going to come up a hair short.”

During the vault exercise, every Michigan gymnast stepped out of her landing and scored between 9.650 and 9.775, while the Utes stuck their landings and posted scores in the 9.8s.

With bars – the Wolverines’ strongest event – following vault, Michigan saw a good opportunity to make up lost ground. But it looked like it might turn into a night of missed landings until veteran junior Lindsey Bruck (9.900) landed her dismount, earning third place in the event. Following suit, senior Jenny Deiley (9.925) and bars specialist Lauren Mirkovich (9.925) exited the apparatus in similar fashion to share the event title. With that, the Wolverines jumped to within half a point.

But Michigan knew it just wasn’t going to be its meet when balance beam All-American Bruck almost fell off her specialty apparatus.

Despite the loss, the night was characterized by some solid individual Wolverine performances.

Deiley earned the all-around title, notching a top-five finish in every event.

“Each week, I am improving, which is exactly what I want to be doing right now,” Deiley said. “My vault still needs a little bit of work. I think it was my lowest score (Saturday) night, but overall, I was very happy.”

But the most exciting routine to watch may have been sophomore Megan Moore’s performance on balance beam. Moore, a walk-on from Rochester Hills, performed beam in exhibition for the first time and earned a competitive score of 9.725.

“Megan trains hard every day, and she doesn’t get the opportunity too often,” Plocki said. “I was just so happy for her tonight, to be able to have the chance to perform her routine in front of a great crowd and do as well as she did.”

Without having to count a single fall during the night, the Wolverines did post a solid performance. But Michigan knows that it’s more than just falls that matter when the No. 2 team in the country is at the other end of Crisler Arena. In gymnastics, every little step and every landing counts.

“If we’re going to beat a team like Utah, which is one of the nation’s top programs, we have to be at our best,” Plocki said. “And we weren’t quite at our best (Saturday) night.”

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