LIVE BLOG: Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan at Michigan (Exhibition)

With just over 30 days until the 2019 season kicks off, it’s finally time to get a glimpse of how teams are looking after a long fall filled with 6 a.m. weight training and long, grueling practices. Fans are given a treat this year with a State-of-Michigan-esque exhibition meet featuring Central, Eastern and Western Michigan at Michigan this afternoon.

And there are a number of questions we’ll be looking for answers to throughout the competition. How will Michigan decide to fill lineups without sophomore Sydney Townsend? How will its much-anticipated freshman class look in its first public showing? How will Eastern Michigan rebound after a tough season in 2018, coming off its third new head coach in just a few years’ time? Will Central Michigan continue to perform above expectations and make this another season to remember? What will Western Michigan look like this early in the season?

Your College Gym News editor in chief Elizabeth Grimsley is here (on her couch in Dallas) to live blog the exhibition and try to answer some of these pressing questions. And bare with me if you will, I’m no Rebecca or Emily M when it comes to live blogging, but I’ll be sure to catch the important stuff. Plus, have you ever tried live blogging a quad meet? It’s about as hard as the skills these gymnasts are performing on the competition floor.

A few injury updates before we get underway: Central Michigan’s Charlie Wright has shoulder surgery back in February; Michigan’s Olivia Karas ruptured her Achilles in February but has been seen tumbling on the hard floor into the pit while Polina Shchennikova and Sam Roy medically retired after last season and are now student coaches; and Eastern Michigan’s Kara Roberts was seen on crutches and in a boot in November. Also note that Anne Maxim transferred from Michigan State to Michigan, and Anna Dayton joined the team as a sophomore after starting college as a freshman elsewhere.

Michigan’s Sam Javanbakt has also been spotted on crutches and Abby Heiskell doesn’t appear to be in any of the projected lineups. She is coming off a torn Achilles last spring. However, don’t be too alarmed just yet as Michigan has sometimes kept some of its key gymnasts out of the preseason exhibition in years past.

To watch along, click here. For stats, click here.

Technical difficulties with the live stream, so we’re off to a good start here. I’ll start blogging as soon as I have something to blog.

Rotation 1

Funk (UM): 9.775

All you’re going to get of this first vault I suppose.

Osman (UM): 9.775
Karas (UM): 9.825
McLean (UM): 9.800
Brenner (UM): 9.875

Wojcik (UM): 9.775
Maxim (UM) – exh.: 9.800

Reynolds (EMU): 9.250
Hultgren (EMU): 9.575
Audet (EMU): 9.350
Clark (EMU): 9.625
Dobronics (EMU): 9.575

Stillwagon (WMU): 8.275
Militello (WMU): 9.450
Buis (WMU): 8.725
Mohler (WMU): 9.700
Spence (WMU): 9.525
Underwood (WMU): coming in halfway through, really pretty scale, stuck cartwheel to gainer full, I’m impressed EMU
Keller (?) (WMU): nice bhs loso series to start, some feet but otherwise solid, split jump to split three-quarter a bit off but saves it, chin stand mixes things up, full turn fine, side aerial to a SCARY back tuck full for her dismount, the side aerial was kind of off and then she goes for the flip still and is super crooked and kind of bounds off the mat but doesn’t fall, yikes, good routine up until then
Binkley (?) – exh.: bhs loso, a bit dumpy in the shoulders but hit, fall on i’m not sure what because I missed it  and ends with a back gainer pike

Tong (CMU): 9.650
Fettinger (CMU): 9.775
Demarnis (CMU): 8.975
Pedrick (CMU): 9.750
Plaska (CMU): opens with a double pike, nice front double full as a second pass, using music we’ve heard a lot in college, ends with a Rudi with a bit of a messy landing but fine, 9.850
Zoeller (CMU): double pike to open and super short and has to bound forward, using what I believe was LSU’s Zamardi’s music from her senior year, find front tumbling middle pass, closes with a rudi to straddle jump, not a bad routine, the potential is definitely there, 9.700
? – exh.: big double pike to open but flexed feet in the air, fully-extended tour jete half to Popa, not too cute of a back 1.5 to front lay as a middle pass but it can be cleaned up, double tuck to close, she was spotted on it but it is just an exhibition meet

After one, it’s UM with 49.050, CMU with 48.725, EMU with 47.750 and WMU with 46.875. Also note before you write off some of these teams and gymnasts—for fantasy drafts or anything like that—it’s only December and a lot are probably trying out things in routines that might not stick around for season. It’s still WAY early and they can only get better. Plus, look at EMU at last year’s December exhibition and then compared that to how it did during the season.

Rotation 2

Vault – Central Michigan
Tong: I think she did a Yhalf but it was small and in the background of the stream, a little squaty and a hop on the landing, 9.625
Johnson: Yfull with some form and a step on the landing but better than a lot I’ve seen, 9.800
Fettinger: a little crunched on the table for her FTY but still got good power with a step back on the landing, 9.750
Demarnis: all of these FTYs look the same, a little messy in the air with a step back, 9.700
Williams: SUPER crooked on the table on her FTY but better than the others in the air and a step back,9.675
Pedrick: FTY, some closed hips in the air but you can tell the difference in her vault and the others, 9.775

Bars – Michigan
Funk: giant full to huge Tkatchev with some feet, bail to not-quite-handstand, finishes with a double layout with a little step/hop on the landing, 9.725
Karas: Shaposh to super floaty bail handstand, great form, nailing her handstands, double lay with a hop back, it’s so good to have her back, 9.825
Farley: blind into piked jaeger and a fall, came down right on her knees, looked like it hurt, finishes up with a bling to stuck double front, shame about the fall but she’ll be fine come season, 9.225
O’Hara: our first actual look at her after two seasons of not competing, blind to straddle Jaeger, nice bail handstand, good form like all Southeastern club gymnasts, giants into a straight-body double lay with a small hop, great routine and they’ll love having her this season, 9.825
Brenner: short on her first handstand, blind to straddle jaeger, wonky handstand out of it but hits her bail handstand, good last handstand to double layout with a small hop back, 9.725
Wojcik: toe-on blind to piked jaeger, bail to just short of handstand, BEAUTIFUL handstands, giants to flared double layout stuck, GUYS, her form is to-die-for, she’s the next big thing, trust me, 9.875

Maxim (exh): toe-on and doesn’t get it quite over and falls, remounts and tries again and essentially does a roundy round on the high bar and comes off again, taking her time to remount now, gets it on the third try and connects it into a big Tkatchev, bail is good, finishes with a stuck double layout, the potential is there
Mariani (exh): missed the first part but her bail handstand was good, maybe a bit short on the last handstand and finishes with a full-in with a step back

Beam – Eastern Michigan
Hultgren: 9.625
Price: 9.375
Dobronics: 9.475
Satler: 9.600
Rondeau: nice series, I think it was a bhs loso but might have been a triple, hits her leap series and ends with a ro 1.5 with a hop forward, 9.450
Clark: 8.300
Benzie: bhs loso with some form and a check on the landing, full turn is fine, side aerial and falls, super short of 180 split jump ot straddle quarter and a wobble, gainer full to end, some piking in the hips but stuck

Floor – Western Michigan
Militello: 9.725
Stillwagon: 9.550
St. Brice: 9.350
Spence: 9.775
Underwood: 9.850
Shirley: Alicia Sacramone floor music, opens with a ro double pike with a good landing, switch side to Popa, good extension, ro 1.5 to front tuck is good if not a tad easy, finishes with a ro double tuck that lands super low and she has to take a large step forward but a good routine overall, 9.650

Bare with me on the names for some of the non-Michigan teams. I’m trying to catch what the announcer says on the video or see the more recent score that pops up, so apologies in advance if there are any errors.

After three, it’s UM 98.025, CMU 97.375, EMU 95.525, WMU 95.425.

Rotation 3

Vault – WMU
Keller (?): Yurchenko layout, has way too much power and bounds back, I wonder if she’s planning to potentially upgrade
Buis: 9.600
Ludwig: 9.425
Spence: 9.050
Underwood: 9.800
St. Brice: FTY, not too shabby to be honest, better form and control than some of the EMU vaults we saw, 9.775

Bars – CMU
Zoeller: 9.525
Porter: 9.500
Pedrick: 9.600
Miller: 9.625
Plaska: 9.050
Williams: 9.250

Beam – UM
Karas: cool cartwheel choreo to start, gainer loso to beat jump, solid, standing switch split jump to pike jump, nice and unique, bhs loso hit to beat jump, full turn good, gainer pike dismount with a small hop back, and she’s back! 9.625 – huh must have been a SV issue because it looked good to me?
McLean: switch leap to straddle quarter is good, full turn small check, bhs loso with a huge leg up wobble but saves it, cat leap to switch side, split jump to standing loso, finishes with a do 1.5 with a large step forward and to the side, beam has never bene her event but that wasn’t bad save for the big series wobble, 9.350
Brenner: bhs loso, knees in the air but hit, full turn is good, cat leap to switch side that wasn’t quite 180, front toss with a balance check, ro double with a hop in place, she hit but there are form things throughout that will hold her score down, 9.325 – adjusted to 9.425
Farley: bhs loso loso nailed, switch a tad short, full turn, side aerial to split jump is good, switch leap short split to split jump, back gainer pike with a step back, good routine, 9.600
Funk: bhs loso is hit, switch side quarter is super nice, over split on that, hit full turn, beat jump to Popa is also super nice, wow I’m impressed with those straddle positions of hers, side aerial to stuck layout full, best routine of the rotation so far, 9.725

Wojcik: gorgeous front aerial to beat jump, switch leap to split jump, nice and oversplit, bhs loso nailed, full turn good, side aerial with a small balance check, ro stuck 1.5, great routine for her, 9.700
Osman (exh.): bhs loso small check, missed the middle oops, ends with a gainer layout with some split legs and a small step but a good routine, wouldn’t be surprised if that was in the lineup at some point
O’Hara (exh.): full turn good, side aerial bhs is hit, love that series, split jump to double stag ring, also nice, glad she’s made it to see competition time this year, side aerial/somi, kind of ugly in the air but it can be cleaned, side aerial to 1.5 super close to the beam with a step, that routine needs more time but has potential

Floor – EMU
Gregory: this gymnast is using my floor routine from level 8, it’s the Beethoven Christmas song that you hear a lot around the holidays, #memories, 8.700
Benzie: 9.425
Smith: 9.750
Satler: 9.200
Rondeau: 9.700
Dobronics: 9.800

After three, UM 146.025, CMU 144.875, WMU 143.725, EMU 143.400.

A lot of talk about the scores after Michigan’s beam. I agree that the scores were definitely tight, however do note that this exhibition always has lower scoring plus we’re in the Big Ten. The new pause deduction rules have also been brought up, which deduct for different things over 2 seconds. But take a moment to count to 2 seconds. It’s a long time. I highly doubt these beam routines are getting hit for that rule specifically. But that’s just my two cents.

Rotation 4

Vault – EMU
Harden: 9.725
Rondeau: 9.675
Gresham: 9.775
Dobronics: 9.725
Hultgren: 9.700
Smith: 9.650

Bars – WMU
Underwood: 9.500
Buis: 9.625
Mohler: 9.600
Spence: 9.700
Harrison: 9.025
Rondeau: 9.625

Beam – CMU
Tong: 9.025
Williams: 8.775
Porter: 9.550
Pedrick: 9.550
Plaska: 9.150
Memmel: 9.700

Farley: opens with a double pike and is way short and falls, her choreo actually isn’t too bad, normally I’m not a fan of Michigan’s style but this year is looking up so far, second pass a ro whip half to front full, ro 1.5 to front lay to jump with some legs in the saltos, not a bad routine, 8.900
Osman: double tuck to open is good, switch side Popa good positions, OK I take back my choreo comments, maybe it was just Farley, so 1.5 to front lay, feet skidded a tad but not a huge deduction, ends with a double pike, short with a medium step forward, 9.800
Wojcik: music starts but she doesn’t so we’re going to try again, nice doubble pike to open, maybe a tad too large of a step back, switch ring to tour jete half is gorgeous of course, front double full to front pike second pass, doesn’t even hold her legs on the pike, Rudi to beautiful straddle jump to finish, I just can’t get enough of her gymnastics, 9.875, the judges love her too
Funk: double pike, solid landing, the best of the team so far, front full to front layout is fine, lots of crawling on the floor, switch side to Popa, now some I Like the Way You Move music, ends with a short double tuck to large step forward to save it, 9.800
Brenner: 2.5 to front layout, some legs apart on the lay but wow for a first pass, ro 1.5 through to double full, nice, I actually don’t mind her routine either, I think it’s because she really knows how to show it off whereas some of the others just go through the pose pose pose motions, ends with a double pike, she set it back a lot but saved it, a good routine, 9.800
McLean: double tuck with a large step back, front lay to close-hipped front full, using a medley of lots of common floor musics, tour jete half to Popa, ends with a double pike that’s short with steps forward but saved, 9.750
O’Hara (exh): good form in her double pike but chest down on the landing, tour jete full to Popa, front full to front tuck (perhaps a mistake), lands low and deep and has to take two stumble steps back, her choreo isn’t half bad either and I do think because she’s really showing is off, ends with a ro to 1.5 to front lay to fall, it just didn’t have enough rotation

Michigan: 195.125
Eastern Michigan: 192.000
Central Michigan: 191.850
Western Michigan: 191.725

Overall, it was a messy meet for all teams across the board, but don’t really use those scores as a reference for how the routines looked. I’d add around a point to each team’s total to get a better outlook on where the teams stand at this point, which takes into account the harsher beam judging we experienced.

Thanks for following along! I hope I wasn’t too much of a mess, but again, live blogs of quads are hard, guys. Let’s meet back here on January 4 for the 2019 season, OK?

Live blog by Elizabeth Grimsley


    1. No announcement has been made on her status. However, Michigan gymnastics or similar verbiage has been removed from her social media bios.

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