The Michigan women’s gymnastics team learned an important lesson this weekend.
Don’t let up.
After putting up Michigan-like numbers on the vault (49.150), uneven bears (48.925) and balance beam (49.175), the Wolverines went into the floor exercise in first place and had all but wrapped up a victory at the State of Michigan Classic in East Lansing. The Classic featured teams such as Michigan State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan.
Though the Wolverines didn’t have any major falls, a few stumbles and several mistakes accounted for a score of 48.525 – the lowest of any team on the floor exercise. Michigan State took advantage of Michigan’s lackluster floor performance and won the meet, 196.350 to 195.775.
It was the first loss of the season for the ninth-ranked Wolverines.
“Everyone had a little mess up here and there,” junior Nellie Kippley said. “Every little thing counts. You have to finish off the meet, and we just didn’t finish it as we would have liked.”
The team hopes to learn a valuable lesson from their sub-par floor routine, as five of the six floor competitors didn’t score higher than 9.725.
“We need to learn from this that you cannot afford to relax,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “You don’t relax until the meet is over and all the performances are done. Hopefully we learned a great deal from this.”
Despite the Wolverines’ poor performance in the floor exercise, there were a few bright spots during the meet.
Freshman Kelsey Knutson, who has been battling an injury all year, finished third on the beam in her debut.
“She was excellent tonight,” Plocki said through the athletic department. “I am so proud of her. She nailed her first collegiate routine, and it helped us a lot. I told her that we’d find out what kind of competitor she was, and I think she showed it tonight.”
Knutson, the three-time Iowa Gymnast of the Year in high school, had the team’s second best debut score on the beam since 2004. Her performance once again proved the Wolverines are moving forward after losing both senior Lindsey Bruck and freshman Jordan Sexton to season-ending injuries earlier in the season.
Sophomore Tatjana Thuener-Rego tied for first on the uneven bars with a score of 9.850 – her best score of the season.
Sophomore Huneth Lor was the lone Wolverine to do well on the floor. She continued her solid 2007 campaign with a career-best score of 9.825. Lor and Kippley also posted career-bests on vault with scores of 9.825 and 9.850, respectively.
Even with the team’s poor finish, Plocki has no reservations about the Wolverines’ attitude.
“I think these kids get it,” Plocki said. “I think they are more disappointed in themselves than I could be. They’ll bounce back from this, and they will learn from this and just make sure it doesn’t happen again.”