Freshman Natalie Beilstein and junior Kylee Botterman led the comeback for the Wolverines on the floor routine just as they did against then-No. 5 Utah on Feb. 19. Even with the same scores: 9.875 and 9.950, respectively.

The stage was set, but the scene was nothing new. The No. 12 Michigan women’s gymnastics team took another elite squad down to the wire at Crisler Arena, and it once again failed to disappoint.

Last Friday on Senior Night, the Wolverines (4-1 Big Ten, 13-2 overall) finished with a flash and ended the evening with stellar floor routines to overthrow defending national champion No. 5 Georgia, 196.375-195.800.

Just as the team ousted then-No. 5 Utah on Feb. 27, with freshman Natalie Beilstein and junior Kylee Botterman leading the comeback, so they did again against the Bulldogs — with the duo again posting scores of 9.875 and 9.950.

“We must have good luck against fifth-ranked teams, to beat Utah and Georgia both in the same year,” Michigan coach Bev Plocki said.

The Wolverines beat the then top-ranked Bulldogs in their last meeting of the 2008 season, but the all-time record of 36-4 heavily favors Georgia.

Senior Sarah Curtis also played a part in leading the team to victory, posting consistent scores throughout the evening and taking home the all-around crown.

For what could be her final performance in Ann Arbor, Curtis took advantage of her opportunity.

“It was very fitting that Sarah would come out on top tonight,” Plocki said. “I think everybody wanted to win it so badly for the seniors … everybody wanted it to be this kind of night for our seniors, and everybody stepped it up a notch.”

And in usual fashion, Curtis took home top honors with the all-around, but didn’t even have to win any other events to win the spot.

“That’s kind of been my history,” Curtis said. “I’m not exactly the person that is great on anything. I’m not going to guarantee that I win anything, but I’m pretty consistent on everything. That makes me a great person for this team, because I contribute in all events, and I’m not the person who necessarily wants to win everything.”

On a night littered with storylines, another major improvement came from senior Maureen Moody, who overcame a few disappointing meets recently to win the uneven bars title with a score of 9.850.

Beilstein made another bid for the Big Ten’s top freshman with her performance, sticking a 9.950 to start the evening on vault, and topping it off with her solid floor routine.

Although her scores have come as no surprise this season, Beilstein has offered more than anyone could have expected.

“Before going on the floor, (Michigan assistant coach Shannon Welker) just said to Kylee and me, ‘You two are the last girls up, and you are the strongest, and these are the scores we need,’ ” Beilstein said. “And I went out there and made my score count, and it did, and we came out with the win.”

With the Big Ten Championships looming just two weeks away, Michigan has hit its stride, but another huge test will come on Friday when the Wolverines head to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for a clash of two of the nation’s best teams.

“Now we are going in to meet No. 1 Alabama,” Plocki said. “I think this is just building a lot of confidence for us and I think that we can take on anybody.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.