Looking nothing like the team that stumbled to a third-place finish last week at the Maui Invitational, the No. 3 Michigan women”s gymnastics team found its confidence again and easily handled visiting Northern Illinois 194.90-186.60 in its first regular season home meet.
Michigan gymnasts finished in the top three in each of the four events.
Michigan (2-2) started out with a solid team score of 48.4 on the vault, including scores of 9.725 from Calli Ryals, Kallie Steffes and Janessa Greico. From there, the Wolverines never looked back, as the Huskies had trouble early in their first event and were unable to mount a serious challenge.
With sophomore Elise Ray sitting out two of the four events with an injury, fellow sophomore Ryals had little trouble picking up the slack, as her all-around score of 38.925 was good enough for her first individual all-around title.
“It was pretty exciting for me,” Ryals said. “But it”s especially good for a team like us who is coming back from a meet where we didn”t do so well to get some confidence back .”
Along with winning the vault, Ryals scored a personal best 9.9 on the uneven bars to win her first ever title in that event. The bars would prove to be Michigan”s finest event as Ray”s 9.875 and senior Amy Kuczera”s 9.825 helped propel Michigan to a 49.15 for the event. None of the six Wolverines scored less than a 9.725.
The Huskies, meanwhile, had numerous problems on the bars as they staggered to a score of 44.725.
“Michigan is an awesome team,” Northern Illinois coach Mark Sontag said. “We knew coming in we were going against a top-notch team and that”s exactly what they were.”
Already cruising 97.55 to 91.50 after two events, Michigan faced its most troubling event, the balance beam. After falling five times on the beam in Hawaii, the Wolverines opened up yesterday”s meet with falls from Grieco and Steffes. But things would get much better as seniors Melissa Peterson and Shannon MacKenzie scored 9.775 and 9.85, respectively. Ray then fed off their momentum and posted a 9.825 to carry the team to an overall score of 48.45.
“I went up to Melissa after the first two of them fell and told her not to be affected by them and she just looked at me, nodded, and then got up there on the beam and was able to turn things around,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said.
Grieco then competed in the floor exercise and started it off with a bang as her 9.9 was the best routine of the afternoon. Steffes” 9.875 and Jodie Rosenberg”s 9.85 led the Wolverines to a 48.9 on the floor.
“It was really exciting to be out there on the floor for the first time in competition,” Grieco said after sitting out the floor exercise in Hawaii with a shoulder injury. “I just did my first full floor routine in practice this week. So, it”s real nice to get back into the swing of things.”