Just one day removed from being named Big Ten Athlete of the Week for women”s gymnastics and six days removed from winning her second consecutive all-around title, Michigan sophomore Calli Ryals gets one more gift tomorrow she gets to go home.
That”s because the No. 11 Michigan woman”s gymnastics team (1-0 Big Ten, 3-2) is heading to Ryals” home state of Ohio to face No. 23 Ohio State (0-0, 0-3) tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Columbus.
It”s Ryals” first chance as a Wolverine to compete in her home state.
“I was born and raised a Buckeye,” Ryals said. “My sister goes to Ohio State, and my father”s side of the family are big Buckeye fans so there was a little resentment when I decided to go to school here.”
And there is no better time for Ryals and Michigan to show up in Columbus, considering the roll she has been on. After winning her first all-around title against Northern Illinois on Jan. 13, Ryals scored a career best 39.925 last Saturday to help the Wolverines upset then-No. 5 Minnesota 195.125-195.025. The win was Michigan”s 28th straight in Big Ten competition.
Ohio State has struggled early. But the Buckeyes have faced tough competition their 0-3 record is deceiving considering they have faced Kentucky, Utah and Oklahoma, all teams in the top 12 in the nation.
“I haven”t even really been able to look much at Ohio State,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “I”m spending so much time with our team and our team”s injuries that I haven”t had any time to scout them out.”
Those injuries most notably last year”s NCAA all-around co-champion Elise Ray”s bruised heel, which has turned into an Achilles heel problem have made Plocki try to keep it safe.
“We need to make sure we don”t lose her because we can”t afford that,” she said.
Ray has yet to compete in an all-around competition this year, but has participated on the balance beam and uneven bars.