Championships don”t come easily.

For that reason, the Michigan women”s gymnastics team isn”t going to sit on its laurels and expect the Big Ten title to fall into its lap. While Michigan has won eight of the last nine Big Ten conference meets, there are teams that are ready to clean up, should the Wolverines fall.

With that in mind, the Wolverines know that they are going to have to step up their performances, even beyond the success of last weekend”s season-best score of 197.575 against West Virginia.

But with their confidence peaking, the Wolverines feel they”re more than capable of taking their game up yet another level.

“It doesn”t seem like we”re as good as we can get,” Karina Senior said. “We still have things that we can improve on, but the possibilities are endless. Hopefully we can put it all together at Big Tens.”

No. 10 Penn State will most likely provide the biggest competition for seventh-ranked Michigan. The Nittany Lions will enter Saturday”s meet led by the nation”s top-ranked gymnast, Katie Rowland. Her score of 39.555 is a commanding .6 points ahead of the next closest competitor Kristi Lichey of Georgia.

In spite of Rowland, Michigan is still the favorite to continue its impressive run through the Big Ten.

“I don”t want to jinx ourselves,” said Michigan coach Bev Plocki when asked about her team”s chances this weekend. “What we have to do is just hit our routines like we did against West Virginia.”

Knaeble healthy, honored: After being bothered by a sore back in recent weeks, Michigan senior Bridget Knaeble was back in form last week against West Virginia.

“My back”s much better than it was against UCLA,” Knaeble said. “I”m ready for the rest of the season.”

In addition to feeling better, she also earned the Big Ten Conference gymnast of the week honor for her performance against West Virginia. The senior just missed perfect 10.0 scores on two events posting a 9.975 to win the individual bars title and a 9.950 to tie Senior for the floor exercise win. Knaeble”s win on bars was her fourth of the year, to go along with three wins on the floor.

Singer defending champ on bars: Sophomore Cami Singer tied former teammate Tara Tagliarino for the Big Ten uneven bars title last season with a 9.925 score. Singer is the only current Wolverine who is looking to defend a title at Big Tens this weekend.

This season, Singer did not compete on bars for five meets after a shaky performance against Oregon State, but she has returned to the rotation by posting 9.8 scores in two of the last three competitions. Her toughest competition for this year”s title could come from her own teammates, as Elise Ray and Knaeble are ranked first and second in the Big Ten.

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