Elevate the Stage Big Five with No. 8 Michigan, No. 14 Minnesota, No. 22 Ohio State, No. 34 Illinois and No. 51 Rutgers

It’s Big Five time! I’m in Toledo this weekend with Emily HF, who is photographing. Be sure to check our social media for her photos throughout the weekend.

For a refresher: the Big Five meets seed all of the Big Ten teams for the conference championship. The top three teams from this session will compete in the evening session of the championship with Iowa, Nebraska and Penn State, the top three from yesterday. The bottom two teams here will join Maryland and Michigan State in the afternoon session.

At Big Tens, any team from either session can win, so being seeded in the evening is more about bragging rights and the perceived score bump in session two than anything else. Nebraska was second at the championship last year—and Megan Schweihofer won the all around—from the afternoon session.

For even more fun, rather than Big Fives being the week before the championship, they’ve been moved back so Big Ten conference play ends and teams can have fun, out-of-conference matchups the last few weeks of the regular season. Since this meet closes conference play, the regular season champion is decided this weekend. (Every team in the conference competes against each team once: the five teams competing here all competed against the five teams in the other session in dual meets throughout the preceding weeks.)

Because that isn’t enough chaos, the Big Ten decided to throw the whole thing on podium this year at an Elevate the Stage meet. Phew! It’s a lot.

Michigan and Minnesota both come into this weekend as the only undefeated teams in the conference, so if either team wins here, it will be the outright regular season champion. There will also be an all around battle brewing between Natalie Wojcik and Lexy Ramler; don’t count Olivia Karas out though. For a fun bit of symmetry: All three of these all arounders vault spectacular Yurchenko one and a halfs. Don’t miss any of them.

Michigan is certainly the favorite, but if it gives up an inch Minnesota is poised to take the title. Ohio State is also a threat; the Buckeyes have had a few sluggish weeks but are capable of big numbers if their upperclassmen get back into form.

Illinois and Rutgers have certainly been lagging behind the field, but the Scarlet Knights put up a 196 recently and could knock a top team out of the evening session with a big hit.

If this meet is anything like last night, it will be a wild ride.

Note: Rachel Cutler (Minnesota) recently tore her Achilles. She was consistently in the floor lineup.

Seeding for this meet is as follows:
1. Michigan, starting on vault, bye rotation four
2. Minnesota, starting on bye, floor in rotation two
3. Ohio State, starting on bars, bye in rotation three
4. Illinois, starting on beam, bye in rotation three
5. Rutgers, starting on floor, bye in rotation five

The trophy’s in the house!

Aaand I’m back! Here early watching warmups. Emma McLean is warming up vault, an event she hasn’t done since January 18 with a sore shoulder. Haylee Roe is in a boot and not dressed out for Illinois. New roster addition Rachel Borden is warming up beam.

Stands are maybe a quarter full, and it’s about half Michigan fans. That makes sense, since Ann Arbor is pretty close to Toledo. The Let’s Go Blue chants are out in full force, and there’s still another thirty minutes of warmups to go!

UPGRADE ALERT: Natalie Wojcik just warmed up a full-in!

A small child is singing the national anthem (really well!) and it FILLED IN in here. This session is crowded, by Big Ten standards.

We’re slowly but surely watching all five intro videos before team introductions. Gymnastics will happen soon, I swear!

Two minute touch is rolling! We’re so close. The atmosphere in here is already intense. Huge shoutout to Elevate for giving the Big Ten this fun stage.

Rotation 1: Michigan vault, Ohio State bars, Illinois beam, Rutgers floor (Minnesota on bye)

HERE. WE. GO.

Borden (Ill): Her first set! Handstand mount. Front aerial, small wobble. Repeats, connects to fhs, good. Backwalkover, almost falls but saves it. She’s nervy. Sheep, good. Front 1/1 dismount, small hop.

Hinterberger (tOSU): Blind + Jaeger, good. Archy handstand saves it bail. Great final handstand. Double tuck.

Heiskell (UM): FTY, good body, small hop back.

Maxim (UM): Tsuk 1/2, good! Small step.

Brenner (UM): Y1.5, medium step to the side.

Stone (tOSU): Blind + Jaeger + bail, good rhythm. Great final handstand. Blind 1/1 got stuck, had to repeat a giant, double tuck.

Hit beam for Noonan.

McLean (UM): FTY, HUGE near stick. Bounced up on her toes a touch. Wow.

Karas (UM): Y1.5, small hop forward.

Karolewski (RU): Double pike, good landing! FHs front lay front 1/1, low on the full but lands fine. Doulbe tuck, trips herself up and falls backward, OOB.

Otto (Ill): Not phased by screams for Wojcik,. Hit Bhs loso. Switch + tuck 1/1, so pretty. side aerial 1/1, small hop!

Wojcik (UM): Y1.5, STUCK. TEN TEN TEN. !!!!1

Hit bars for Swartzentruber in all the chaos! Oh, friends. Tonight is a NIGHT.

Amoresano (RU): Double pike, EXCELLENT landing! Textbook. Missed her jumps. 3/2 + front lay a touch piked in both. Rock medley! So fun. Double tuck, STUCK COLD. YES.

Gagliardi (tOSU): Blind EZHOVA. Toe shoot. DLO, small step.

Hit beam, a few wobbles for Scott.

Howell (Ill): She’s so elegant. Little details. Bhs layout two feet, small bobble. Switch? + split 1/4, good. Cat + switch side. Gainer pike, small hop in place.

Rizkalla (RU): 3.2 front tuck, little wild in the air. “Yeah” the song! haha. Switch side + popa + tuck 1/1, good! FHS rudi loso, looked like she wanted to put a hand down but stopped herself. Blows a kiss to her team to end. Good saves!

Biondi (Ill): Missed her jumps. Bhs loso, totally solid. Cat + front aerial touch off but pulls it in. RO 3/2, pikes and has to hop forward.

Ali (RU): FULL-IN PERFECT LANDING. Oh shoot this is a MEET. Switch side popa, cheated rotation just a touch. Front through double tuck, another excellent landing. She’s from Ann Arbor, just up the road, and has a huge cheering section here! Great routine.

Huang (RU): tOSU is dancing to her music! FHS front 2/1, drops the landing right in. FHS rudi loso, very nice. Rutgers means business with floor landings. Switch side + wolf 1/1 no problems. FHS rudi STUCK and controlled lunge out to show it off. Shooooot.

AFTER ONE: Michigan 49.350, Illinois 49.075, Ohio State 49.050, Rutgers 49.000

Phew! WHAT A ROTATION. Every team here is on absolute fire, and the crowd is here for it. We have a battle on our hands. The Wojcik 10? The dueling UM and tOSU landings? The Rutgers floor landings? Illinois sailing through beam with all the screaming? Hello Big Ten, we see you!

Rotation 2: Rutgers vault, Michigan bars, Ohio State beam, Minnesota floor (Ill on bye)

Mariani (UM): GOOD first handstand. Clear hip hand to big Tkatchev. Bail hand some leg sep. Full-in, college stick with the step covered to salute.

Fall on beam for Ohio State from Lowe.

Maxim (UM): Toe hand + Takchev, little sloppy. Bail hand good. DLO STUCK oh shoot UM is ON.

Hit leadoff floor for Minnesota.

Farley (UM): Hect mount. Blind + pike Jaeger some legs. Bail hand touch shy. Blind + double front STUCK AGAIN.

Rizkalla (RU): Ilg!! Love it.

Karas (UM): HANDSTANDS. Toe hand + Maloney, bail hand EXCELLENT. DLO small hop.

Huang (RU): FTY, hop back.

Abanto (tOSU): off on bhs loso. Front aerial, bobble. Check on full turn. She’s just off. Gainer pike off the end, step back.

Brenner (UM): Hect mount, blind + Jaeger, good. Bail hand. DLO, stuck again!

Amoresano (RU):  FTY flared it, small hop.

Wojcik (UM): Hect mount. Blind + pike Jaeger great catch. You know her toes. Bail hand. Sole circle. DLO, STUCK. Shoot Michigan. SHOOT.

Higgins (Minn): FHS front 2/1, not there rotation-wise, hops OOB. Switch side Popa. 3/2 + front pike, good. FHS rudi, much better rotation.

Stone just STUCK her 5/2 beam dismount!

Loper (Minn): Front lay + rudi, good. Switch to tour jete 1/1, love the difficulty! 3/2 + front lay, great, being picky she lost height in the final salto. Rudi, excellent landing!

Aepli (tOSU): Bhs loso some knees and a small check. Cat + front toss + beat good. Switch, pause, split. That won’t get connection. Gainer 1/1 piked, step.

McClelland (tOSU): Double stand handstand bhs loso, bobble but pulls it back on. Switch, bobble. Beat + split 3/4, think she added the beat to get connection. Front tuck small foot slide. Front 1/1 covers step with salute.

Ramler (UM): Ring 1/1 lovely. Double pike, goes overly hard for stick and ends up with a low chest and step forward. Switch ring 1/1. FHS rudi, very good. 3/2 through 2/1, has to lunge forward to stay in bounds. Not her best set, but not bad either.

Williams (Minn): Friends this is a personal favorite floor. She’s so wonderfully expressive. FHS front 2/1 STELLAR. She freaking flared it! Switch side Popa, good. 3/2 flared again + front lay, one foot slid, couldn’t see if it ended up OOB. FHS rudi, controlled lunge. Paige Williams, folks.

AFTER TWO: Michigan 98.975, Rutgers 97.700, Ohio State 97.025, Illinois 49.075, Minnesota 49.050

Flames emoji. That about sums it up. Michigan had a few teeny things, but that was a fair bars total. That was postseason bars work. Ohio State continues to struggle on beam, for some reason. The Buckeyes just can’t put it together this month. Minnesota had some small things, and floor scoring remained tight, as it was for Rutgers as well. Rutgers is swimming along and will feel good about this halfway total.

Rotation 3: Minnesota vault, Rutgers bars, Michigan beam, Illinois floor (Ohio State on bye)

Farley (UM): Bhs loso loso, her usual knees. Switch + split. Side aerial + split, solid. Gainer pike off the end.

Quaglia (Minn.): FTY, STUCK. Wow!

Biondi (Ill): FHS front lay front 1/1, good landing. Switch ring 1/1, good! Double tuck, low chest but pulls it around. Switch side + wolf 1/1, good rotation.

Montomery (Minn): FTY, hip angle and a small hop.

Sonier (Minn): FTY, hips and a hop to the side.

Williams (Minn): Big FTY, flared, hop.

Hit beam from Osman, and bars for Ali.

Huang (RU): Arched first handstand. Bail hand leg sep. Good Tkachev! Blind 1/1 + double tuck stuck.

Karas (UM): Bhs loso, solid. Missed her jumps. Gainer loso, small wobble. Rudi dismount, brings feet together.

Ramler (Minn): Y1.5, stuck cold.

Loper (Minn): Y1.5 small hop forward.

Otto (Ill): OOB on opening combo pass. Really expressive dance. 3/2 + front tuck, good landing. Switch ring + Khorkina so lovely. FHS rudi, good.

Marinai (UM): Side arial small check + split + straddle 1/4, feet, on straddle. BHS loso, good. RO 3/2 short, steps back.

Amoresano (RU): clar hip hand + geinger + bail, good. 3/2 double salto dismount!

Farrell (RU): Maloney, leg sep. Pak feet. Good last handstand. Giant 1/1 + double tuck small hop.

Funk (UM): Bhs loso steady but knees in the bhs. Straddle 1/2, missed another jump in there. Beat + popa so strong. Side aerial 1/1 teeny hop right up onto her toes.

Hit floor from Scott.

Howell (Ill): Front through double tuck, low chest stumbles forward. This routines is so elegant. Missed her jumps. Double pike, low chest but better feet.

Wojcik (UM): Front aerial + beat steady. Switch + split, good. Bhs loso solid. Cat + Side aerial, slightly off but she pulled it back. RO 3/2 stuck.

Noonan (Ill): FHS 2/1, stumbled into the lunge a bit. FHS front lay rudi, excellent twisting form. Switch ring + cat 3/2. DEATH DROP TIME. This routine is fun. 1/1 + front lay STUCK.

AFTER THREE: Michigan 148.375, Rutgers 146.650, Minnesota 98.325, Illinois 97.950, Ohio State 97.025

Let’s chat about Michigan. A 49.475 on floor will break the program record, which has held since 2000. Meaning the Elise Ray years didn’t even get there. Wojcik could tie the AA program record with a 9.95 on floor. Scoring here has been a bit tight on floor, but everywhere else it has felt pretty on point. Not as tight as it can get in the Big Ten, but not overly generous either. Let’s see if Ohio State used the bye to reset and can come back strong on floor here.

Rotation 4: Illinois vault, Minnesota bars, Rutgers beam, Ohio State floor (Michigan on bye)

Chesney (tOSU): Double pike, slightly low chest. Double tuck, bounces up to her hands. Switch side popa. 3/2 + front lay, good.

Donovan (Ill): FTY, big step back.

Hall (RU): Front toss bhs swingdown, tiniest reset in the middle. Beat + split 3/4. 3/2 dismount, small hop.

Biondi (Ill): Yhalf VERY deep knees but stays up.

Hit bars for Quaglia.

Willmarth (Minn): Tkachev, good. Bail hand EXCELLENT. Blind full little lat double tuck stuck.

Otto (Ill): FTY great distance, medium step.

Howell (Ill): FTY, hip angle and a medium hop.

Loper (Minn): Maloney to pak, good. Sole circle. Blind full  + double tuck hop.

Scott (Ill): FTY twisted early  and deep landing.

Perez (tOSU): She is SUCH a dancer. FHS front 2/1, great landing. Double pike, textbook controlled lunge. Switch side + popa good. 3/2 + front tuck, wonky in the air from a bad takeoff, but pulls it off.

Hit beam from Ali.

Meeks (Ill): FTY VERY big!

Ramler (Minn): Maloney. HUGE pak. Van Leeuwen, feet cross. Full in stuck.

Abanto (tOSU): Double pike great! 3/2 + front lay little low. Switch ring + switch 1/1. Double tuck holds a stick to not go OOB.

Lu (Minn): Maloney to pak good. Van Leeuwen, feet issues. DLO, hop back.

Amoresano (RU): Bhs loso. Missed a side somi I THINK. Switch low back leg + pike. Front 1/1, stuck.

McClelland (tOSU): Double pike, overdoes it and takes several steps back and OOB. Front 1/1 + floaty front lay,. Switch side + popa, nice 180s. Double tuck great.

Doherty-Herwitz (RU): Side aerial big bobble. Front aerial bhs, good. Split + split 1/1, drops her chest, and she falls. Beat + wolf. Gainer 1/1 good.

Stone (tOSU): Double pike, drops the landing in. 5/2 + front tuck, SO GOOD. Switch side + popa cheated rotation a touch. 5/2 another great landing. She was ON. Great set.

Huang (RU): Side arial + front aerial WHAT a cool combo. RO 2/1, step back. Clearly I missed the middle there, sorry!

Aepli (tOSU): She has struggled here recently. We’ll see what happens tonight. She’s so graceful in this opening choreo. Double tuck, good landing. Switch side + popa. FHS front 1/1 front lay, knees in the lay. Double pike juuuuuuust pulls it around. Great save!

AFTER FOUR: Rutgers 194.600, Michigan 148.425, Minnesota 147.700, Illinois 146.475, Ohio State 145.050

Rutgers’ night is done, and now it will wait. This isn’t a disaster score, but it’s also probably shy of the goal for the team. Ohio State just can’t seem to put it together right now. Remember, we’re on program record watch for Michigan!

Rotation 5: Ohio State vault, Illinois bars, Minnesota beam, Michigan floor (Rutgers on bye)

Funk (UM): Double pike, I think she kept her front foot down. Front 1/1 + front lay barely stays in. Switch side Popa. Rudi to close, great.

Hit bars for Donovan.

Sonier (Minn): Bhs loso, sort of trips and falls. Standing loso. Bhs one arm bhs 3/2 dismount stuck!

Abanto (tOSU): Yhalf, sort of loses her spot in the air and lands a little odd.

Fall onto the bar for Biondi on her Weiler kip and she’s off.

Osman (UM): Full in, pops it up a bit and hops back. Front through double pike no deductions there! Rudi to end, good.

Korlin-Downs (Minn): bhs loso hit with a check. Beat + split, good. Beat + side aerial + 1/1 stuck.

Aepli (tOSU): FTY, great body, small hop.

Stone (tOSU): Lovely Y half, just a step.

Brenner (UM): Full-in, staggered in the air but excellent landing. 5/2 + front tuck stuck cold. Switch side Popa, good. Double pike, juuuuuust stays in on the lunge.

Solid hit from Lu on beam.

Howell (Ill): Blind + pike Jaeger good. pak, leg sep. Blind full + double tuck, hop in place.

McLean (UM): Massive double tuck, great control out. FHS front lay front 1/1, little deep. Double pike staggered feet on landing, controlled lunge. Michigan isn’t kidding around.

Jennings (tOSU): FTY, nice.

Noonan (Ill): Hit release. Bail hand little sloppy legs. Full in, deep knees two steps forward.

Karas (UM): Double Arabian great landing. Switch 1/2 + wolf 1/1. 3/2 + barani, good. Double pike, slides front foot but good.

Hit bars from Otto.

Sales (Minn): bhs loso loso. Missed her jumps. front 1/1 stuck!

Ramler (Minn): Bhs loso, no problems. Front aerial + wolf, great. Beat + Ring, lovely. She’s so divine. Side aerial 1/1 small hop.

Wojcik (UM): There are small children here saying COME ON NATALIE it is everything. I’m going to puke. Double pike stuck cold, just went up on toes. Tour jete 1/1 + wolf 1/1. 3/2 + front pike, controlled. Alright here we go. FHS rudi pops up a straddle. Stellar.

FINAL: 

Evening session

1 University Of Michigan 197.750
2 University Of Minnesota 196.700
3 University Of Illinois 195.525

Afternoon session:

4 Rutgers University 194.650
5 The Ohio State University 194.600


Live blog by Emily Minehart

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