Two weekends ago, the Michigan women”s gymnastics team took the first step toward a national title by winning the Big Ten Championship.

Paul Wong
Freshman Calli Ryals performs on the balance beam the event that has proven to be the biggest problem spot for Michigan throughout the season.<br><br>BRENDAN O”DONNELL/Daily

Tomorrow night at Crisler Arena, they”ll attempt to take step two.

The No. 7 Wolverines will host the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships, a competition where the top two team finishers will head to Georgia for the National Championships. Everyone else goes home for the year.

With No. 6 Stanford and No. 18 Louisiana State joining Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island traveling to Michigan”s turf for the meet, the Wolverines realize that they have a glorious opportunity to win in a difficult situation.

“Anytime we”re going into a championship competition, we have to have the attitude that we”re going to win,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said. “We know that we only have to be one of the top two teams to move on, but I absolutely think that everyone of my athletes is ultimately looking for the Triple Crown Big Ten, Regional, and National Championships.”

In front of a partisan crowd at Crisler for the Big Ten Championships, Michigan routed the competition, defeating second-place Penn State by a fairly significant 0.8 margin, despite struggling on the balance beam.

Being at home once again, the Wolverines are confident and ready to defend their title won at last season”s regional when they posted a team score of 196.550.

“We”ve been in Crisler a hundred times and had a bunch of good meets there the last few weeks,” Christine Michaud said. “We”ve gotten it done so many times there that we know we can get it done anywhere.”

In the Big Ten meet, the Wolverines were forced to finish on the beam their spot which has proved most consistently difficult throughout the year.

When the Regional rotations were released, Michigan could not help but feel a little unlucky. Once again, the Wolverines will conclude their night on the beam.

“I think it”s always harder to end on beam because you know what”s at stake,” Janessa Grieco said. “But it”s good for us, because when we”re in that situation again we need to go in there and prove to ourselves that we can do any rotation.”

If the emotions of competing for a spot in the National Championship will not bring enough of a challenge to its events, Michigan”s seniors Michaud, Bridget Knaeble and Karina Senior will be performing for the last time in front of the home fans.

“I think that when emotions are involved it”s always a good thing,” Senior said. “Knowing that it”s the last time performing for the home crowd, we might have that extra bit of edge and energy.”

While three of the five teams that compete this weekend will be hard pressed to challenge Michigan, Stanford was one of two teams to beat the Wolverines in the season-opening Super Six competition.

In addition to that, Louisiana State was ranked in the top10 nationally in pre-season rankings and finished ninth at last year”s National Championships.

The competition will be stiff, but the Wolverines feel that if they hit their routines like they have shown they can, then they”ll be packing their bags for a trip to Georgia and a shot at the honor they all want.

“We”re striving to get to the “Triple Crown,” ” Senior said. “So far we”ve got one. Hopefully this weekend we”ll get the Regional title too.”

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