For Natalie Beilstein, the praise cascading down from the 2,662 fans in Crisler Arena, “Ten, ten, give her ten,” was nothing new.
But Beilstein, who won two national championships in high school, was not the only freshman to compete at a high level. Brittnee Martinez finished strong in each of her four events, earning a 38.25 in the all-around competition.
Freshman orientation went very well for the Wolverines.
“Our freshman did a great job,” Michigan coach Beverly Plocki said. “In an intimidating atmosphere, they did well.”
In the first competition of the season, Michigan defeated Iowa and Bowling Green on Saturday in Ann Arbor. They finished with a score of 194.875.
But despite the victory, Michigan started relatively slow.
“We had a couple silly mistakes,” Plocki said. “(Senior) Sarah Curtis’s hand slipped on the horse on her vault, which never happens, and we had a couple of silly things like that happen that are easily corrected.”
After a slight fall in vault, Curtis countered with a stunning 9.85 on uneven bars with a near-perfect dismount and landing.
“We have a strong bar lineup,” junior Kylee Botterman said. “We are also a team that can pick it up when we need to.”
Three-time All-American Kylee Botterman picked up where she left off from last season, finishing first in the uneven bars with a 9.9 and second in the vault. Botterman scored high enough in all the events to place first in the all-around with a score of 39.15. It was the ninth time in the last 10 competitions that Botterman reached that coveted plateau.
As the 12th-ranked Wolverines gun for their 18th ever Big Ten title, they can take many positives from Saturday. Botterman has continued her near-perfect form, the freshman look very promising and the team has nine returning upperclassmen.
“This team has a tremendous amount of potential,” Plocki said. “We have to stay healthy and fix the the silly mistakes.”