Heading to Colorado for Spring Break usually means skiing and snowboarding. But for the Michigan women’s gymnastics team, all it means is training at a higher altitude. The Wolverines aren’t allowed to ski or snowboard, due to the risk of injury, and the closest they’ll get to the peaks of mountains will be a gondola ride. Previous spring break activities for the Wolverines included tubing and going to see “The Tonight Show.” But the trip will still be welcome.
“It’s going to be nice to get out of Ann Arbor for a while,” junior Calli Ryals said. “We just need to keep the excitement up.”
Tomorrow will mark the first time Michigan coach Bev Plocki will coach against former assistant Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart, who left Michigan in 1999 to take the head coaching job at No. 11 Denver.
“I think that’s always kind of cool,” Plocki said. “It makes me feel kind of proud to see her out with her own program, being as successful as she’s been with Denver.”
The Wolverines will spend a few days training at the Denver facility before traveling to Utah to take on the third-ranked Utes. There will be a large crowd on hand in Salt Lake City, but assistant Scott Sherman doesn’t expect Michigan to have problems.
“Utah, more so than in Alabama and Georgia, appreciates good gymnastics even by the other team,” Sherman said.
The 10th-ranked Wolverines seem to be putting their uneven bar troubles behind them, after counting just one fall in last weekend’s meet against Northern Illinois, as opposed to three the previous week. The team looked good working on parts of its routines in practice Monday, and while there’s still some work to be done, Sherman feels that things will continue to progress.
“Mental skills in competition are just like physical skills – the more you practice, the better you get,” Sherman said. “I think a lot of the corrections that needed to be made weren’t so much technique as attitude and focus.”
One gymnast who seems particularly focused right now is freshman Jenny Deiley, who won her third all-around title of the year last Friday. Deiley has been nothing short of spectacular this season, winning nine event titles in 35 events competed, and has finished no lower than fourth in the all-around in every meet.
“I can really see her getting the hang of this whole college gymnastics thing,” Plocki said. “I just hope she continues to have success because she deserves it.”
Sophomore Chelsea Kroll has also stepped up, hitting her bars routine in competition for the first time in a while.
“Chelsea Kroll is such a hard worker,” Plocki said. “We knew when we recruited her that bars was not her strength – I think she’s doing a fantastic job.”
After a rough stretch, things look to be turning around for the Wolverines. Although junior Elise Ray’s return this season is uncertain due to a shoulder injury, Kallie Steffes is hoping to return soon and help bolster the bar lineup. The Wolverines will need all the help they can get as they battle some of the nation’s best over break.