For the past seven years, the Michigan women”s gymnastics team has demonstrated complete dominance over Kentucky. The Wolverines had defeated the Wildcats in seven-consecutive meets. This weekend was no different.

With a 196.325-193.8 win, Michigan not only increased its unbeaten streak over Kentucky to eight, but also recorded its highest team score of the season.

Michigan improved its record to 6-3, while Kentucky fell to 0-3 on the season. All three of Michigan”s losses came in its season opener, the Super Six Challenge.

Since that point, the Wolverines have rattled off four consecutive victories, improving their team score in each meet.

Karina Senior and sophomore Janessa Grieco led the way for the Wolverines on Friday, finishing first and second in the all-around competition, respectively. For Senior, it was her second all-around title in the past three meets.

Senior tri-captain Bridget Knaeble added several strong scores across the board to help the team achieve its highest total of the season.

“Our goal for every meet is to try and get a higher score than the previous meet,” Knaeble said. “We just go out with the mindset that we have to do better in every outing, and this time we got it done.”

With many young gymnasts on the team, Knaeble”s leadership has been a major component of the team”s success thus far. Her consistent scoring ability and high level of experience have helped many of her teammates excel.

“I always try to go out with a great attitude and keep the energy level up,” Knaeble said. “If everyone is excited, the whole team tends to perform better.”

The energy level was certainly up Friday night, as the Wolverines received tremendous performances from several gymnasts, both young and old.

It did not take long for freshman Elise Ray to regain her form. After finishing in a tie for second in the all-around competition last weekend at home against Minnesota and Iowa, Ray finished first in both the uneven bars and the floor exercise the first two wins of her collegiate career.

Senior Christine Michaud recorded a 9.875 on the vault, her highest score of the season in the event.

The Wolverines finally managed to finish strong on the balance beam, recording their first score above 49 for the season.

Junior Shannon Mackenzie, a consistently strong beam performer this season, finished in a tie for second place with teammate Melissa Peterson.

As the season progresses, the Wolverines have been gathering steam, recording higher team scores in each successive meet. Still, coach Bev Plocki feels the team has to stay on track in order to remain a national title contender.

“Our biggest challenge will be maintaining our focus on the things we need to improve on,” Plocki said. “Vaulting has been one of my concerns this season. Vaulting has always been one of the best events for Michigan, and in order to compete with national powers like UCLA and Georgia, we must get stronger in that event.”

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