Any high-level gymnastics team expects to win a meet when it posts its second highest score of the season. And that view usually proves to be true, assuming that the other team is not the No. 1 team in the nation.
The Michigan women’s gymnastics team (2-1 Big Ten, 9-6 overall) was in that exact position on Friday as it fell to top-ranked UCLA 197.250-196.775 in a dual meet. The Bruins, who have been ranked as the nation’s top team for the entire season, won the opening rotation and never looked back.
Interestingly, even though the score was the Wolverines’ second highest, they did not feel that they performed as well as they are capable of.
“It wasn’t probably one of our best meets,” junior Calli Ryals said. “We had a fall on beam and a fall on bars. We didn’t count (the falls), but some of our good fresh competitors (should have scored higher).”
Michigan coach Bev Plocki voiced a similar opinion.
“We had some things that cost us some tenths across the board, but on the other hand, we showcased two new vaults tonight (that) I think gave some of those kids a lot of confidence,” Plocki said.
“Not overall our greatest meet, but still we fought through everything, didn’t count any falls, and came out with a good score.”
The Bruins (7-1-1 Pac-10 ,11-1-1 overall) swept the all-around title and also won the vault, beam and floor routine titles as well. The lone event in which a Wolverine sat atop the podium was the uneven bars. Sophomore Lauren Mirkovich posted a 9.925, her second highest score of the season.
This is somewhat ironic, because the Bruins have the highest average score in the nation for the event. In addition, the Wolverines have had their fair share of problems with bars this season, including a stomach-churning 48.450 against Northern Illinois.
“The athletes themselves have put a 110-percent effort into trying to get things corrected and fixed, and we’re beginning to see some of the fruits of their labor,” Plocki said. “We can’t expect 100 percent consistency. Things are definitely going better in (bars) though.”
The meet, which took place at Crisler Arena, was a good preview of the caliber of competiton that will come later on when the Wolverines host the NCAA Northeast Regional on April 12. While Michigan has grown accustomed to performing in front of a variety of different atmospheres, in the words of Dorothy, there is no place like home.
“It’s just a lot more exciting, it’s thrilling, because you really hear the crowd cheering for you, so it’s fun,” Ryals said.
The Wolverines have little time to lick their wounds. That’s because the schedule continues to be brutal, as No. 5 Nebraska comes to Ann Arbor on Friday.