The Michigan women’s gymnastics team has never won a national championship in its 32 years as a varsity program.
Georgia has won eight titles in the last 21 years.
In that span, Michigan gymnasts have earned six individual event titles at nationals to Georgia’s 29.
So, understandably, this weekend’s matchup against No. 1 Georgia, the three-time defending national champion, will be a daunting task for the Wolverines. Michigan has beaten the Gym Dogs just once in 20 tries, with its lone victory coming in 2002.
But tonight, it’ll be a surprise if the Wolverines lose by more than a slim margin.
The fourth-ranked Wolverines (5-0 Big Ten, 14-0 overall) come into the showdown with something that’s been missing in recent years – confidence.
Michigan coach Bev Plocki said this is the first time in six years that Michigan feels confident it can compete with the nation’s top-ranked team. The Wolverines know the key to success is ignoring their opponent and focusing on their routines.
“We just want to get the highest team score possible by sticking landings and making sure everything is clean,” sophomore Sarah Curtis said. “That’s all we can do. Georgia’s going to do what they’re going to do, but we’re going to go out there and put together our best meet.”
Georgia (6-0 Southeastern Conference, 8-1 overall) comes to Ann Arbor riding momentum from this year’s second-highest score in the nation, a 197.900-point domination of Alabama last weekend. Aware of Georgia’s consistency, Michigan expects its opponent to hit handstands and flawless dismounts.
“We can’t do anything to offset what Georgia does,” Plocki said. “They are a fantastic team.”
Michigan will need stellar performances on the balance beam to have a shot at winning. Fluctuating from a three-fall night against Penn State to a season-high 49.400 at North Carolina State, beam has been the team’s most inconsistent event of the year. When the beam squad has hit every routine, Michigan has put up its highest team totals.
Even after recently posting a season-high 197.125 score against N.C. State on Feb. 22, Curtis said the team still hasn’t strung together its best performances on every event in the same meet. The Wolverines need to put everything together, because Georgia averages 197.075 a meet.
With just two meets remaining before the Big Ten Championships and the top-ranked team in town, now is the perfect time to reach that next level.
Note: Last week, fifth-year senior Lindsey Bruck collected her ninth career Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honor, tying a conference record.