Jan. 7, 2017
» Three freshmen made collegiate debuts for the Wolverines.
» Michigan lost its season opener for the first time since 2009.
Site: Salt Lake City, Utah (Huntsman Center)
Score: #6 Utah 196.625, #7 Michigan 195.525
Records: U-M (0-1), Utah (1-0)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, Jan. 14 -- at Ohio State, vs. Washington, vs. Kent State (Columbus, Ohio), 4 p.m.
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- The No. 7-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team went on the road to start the season against No. 6 Utah in a top-10 showdown with the Utes taking the victory, 196.625-195.525, at the Huntsman Center.
"We would all have liked to have had a better meet," said head coach Bev Plocki. "I would have liked to see us not make some of the uncharacteristic mistakes, but we will go back into the gym determined to put in the work necessary to prepare us for next weekend."
Prior to the season, Plocki said she expected the team to start off slower than previous years after so many team members missed practice time for one reason or another during the fall. The lack of total preparation time has put Michigan behind where it would like to be. Despite the slow start, the Wolverines did have plenty of moments to celebrate.
Senior captain Talia Chiarelli was named Michigan's performer of the meet during the awards ceremony. She tied for the team's top vault score with a 9.850 and followed with a 9.800 on floor before closing with a 9.85 on beam.
Junior Brianna Brown, the 2016 Big Ten champion on bars and owner of two All-America seasons, was Michigan's top scorer on the event with a 9.850. She followed with a 9.825 on beam in the final rotation to cap a good start to the season for her.
"It was a lot of fun," said Brown. "I was pretty nervous when I saw all the people. I tried to tell myself to trust my training, and it turned out well."
Plocki attributed nerves and a lack of complete preparation for some of the mistakes but did feel good about how individuals bounced back from their mistakes.
"I was really proud of Paige (Zaziski) as well," said Plocki. "Even with her mistakes, she had a really good routine to lead us off on beam. I put her in that leadoff spot because I have that kind of trust in her."
Sophomore Emma McLean, who was praised for her fall practices by Coach Plocki, had a good day. She matched a career high with a 9.850 on vault and put together a fun floor routine that netted a 9.825. She also competed bars for the first time in college, scoring a 9.725. Senior Nicole Artz, a six-time All-American, had a good start to her final year on floor with a team-high 9.875.
Competing in front of more than 14,000 people, three freshmen made their collegiate debuts. Maddy Osman competed in two events, vault and floor. Polina Shchennikova was in the lineup for bars, while Lexi Funk made her debut on beam.
-- Michigan Gymnastics (@UMichWGym) January 7, 2017
Michigan will be back on the road next weekend when they travel to Columbus, Ohio, for a quad meet with the Buckeyes, Washington and Kent State on Saturday, Jan. 14, at 4 p.m.