The Michigan women’s gymnastics team has advanced to the NCAA Tournament 17 times in the past 18 seasons. This weekend, the Wolverines have one more hurdle to jump before they can make it back to the national stage — the regional championships, where they will face No. 4 Stanford.
Michigan has many factors in its favor going into this tournament. First of all, the tournament will take place in Ann Arbor. Aside from the inherent advantages of competing in a familiar environment, the Wolverines boast a winning history at home.
Of the six regional championships hosted in Crisler Arena, Michigan has emerged with four regional titles and has advanced to the NCAA Tournament all six times.
Michigan also has the strongest momentum entering the tournament, after posting its top scores of the season in the past four weeks, including a Big Ten Championship title and a major upset of No. 7 Georgia at Athens.
“We’ve been focusing on hitting our peak performance in the post season,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “We don’t have our eyes on anyone but ourselves. We’re just looking to go out and give our best performance and compete at the highest level possible.”
While the Wolverines are focused on achieving their peak performance, the rest of the gymnastics world is focused on Stanford.
Michigan’s primary objective is to advance to the NCAA Tournament, but Plocki and her team have set their sights much higher.
“We’re going for the No. 1 seed,” Plocki said.
Based on rankings alone, winning regionals seems like a pipe dream for No. 9 Michigan, especially when comparing the Cardinals’ season high of 196.975 to the Wolverines’ season high of 196.800. However, there are many more numbers to consider.
Stanford’s season high was set against unranked San Jose State nearly two months ago. Michigan hit its season high two weeks ago against Georgia. The other numbers to consider include the average scores of the past four meets. Stanford has scored an average 196.15 to Michigan’s 196.5, and with the 2,064 miles the Cardinals will need to travel to compete, the Wolverines have both momentum and proximity working in their favor.
Despite all of this, many still project Stanford to come out on top.
“The team seems excited to compete in front of home crowd,” Plocki said. “Our confidence will be the key to winning the title. We’re just looking to go out this weekend and give it everything we got.”