YPSILANTI This was exactly the weekend Michigan women”s gymnastics coach Bev Plocki was looking for. A season-best 197.0 in Friday”s rout of No. 13 Florida including team bests in three of the four events was followed in yesterday”s State of Michigan Classic by a 196.3 that was nearly three full points ahead of second-place Michigan State.
Amazingly enough, No. 9 Michigan (3-0 Big Ten, 9-2 overall) has been able to post its best scores without sophomore Elise Ray competing in the all-around competition. Ray, who captained the U.S. Olympic team in 2000, returned to the vault after three weeks off on Friday and took first place with a 9.875 before finishing second yesterday with a 9.8.
Yet Ray”s all-around scores aren”t crucial for Michigan because of the pleasant surprise that fellow sophomore Calli Ryals has been.
Ryals, who yesterday scored her second perfect 10.0 on the floor routine in her last three meets, was able to score a career best all-around score of 39.625 not once, but twice this weekend. The 39.625″s were good enough to win her fourth and fifth consecutive all around titles of the year.
“It”s self-gratifying to know that I can add something to my team,” Ryals said. “I want to put high scores on the board especially with these injuries and I just think it”s great that we are doing so well without Elise Ray.”
The only conflict for the Wolverines may have been how Plocki and Ryals viewed Ryals” floor exercise yesterday.
“If there was any difference in the two 10″s I”d say that this routine was superior to the routine that she had at Ohio State, A 10 is a 10 but this one was better,” Plocki said.
Ryals didn”t concur. “The first 10 is always the best 10,” she said.
Better and Better: The Wolverines have improved their all-around score every single week since opening the season in Maui a month ago.
At this time last year the Wolverines had yet to score over a 196.3 and were sitting at 7-4. But thanks to career high scores from gymnasts this weekend, the 9-2 Wolverines see the sky as their limit.
“This is where we want to be,” Plocki said yesterday. “We are sitting in a really good position now even though we”ve had some injuries and especially with (No. 1) Utah, (No. 2) Georgia and (No. 8) UCLA coming up we want to get healthier.”
Junior co-captain Janessa Grieco, winner on the beam yesterday, has noticed a different attitude among team members as the year has unfolded.
“This team started slow and in some respects I think that might be good because we are getting better every meet.”.