LIVE BLOG: No. 4 Utah at No. 7 Michigan

It’s a Saturday top 10 matinee in Ann Arbor, and I’m here in the Crisler Center to bring you all the action! There’s a lot of excitement around this meet, and things couldn’t be closer: Michigan’s high home score is a 197.550. Utah’s highest road score is also a 197.550. Hold onto your laptops because this could be a back-and-forth, routine-by-routine battle. This is Utah’s meet to lose, but if the Utes have some stumbles, Michigan could use senior night excitement to take it.

Last week the Utes were upset at Cal, the first time the Bears have won that matchup in program history in a dual-meet setting. MyKayla Skinner only competed bars and beam due to some ankle pain; if she’s healthy, expect her back at full force today. Utah will not want to fall two weekends in a row, and Skinner is a big piece of its success on vault and floor. MaKenna Merrell-Giles, Kari Lee and Missy Reinstadtler are also crucial all arounders. Merrell-Giles is a superb vault and floor worker, and keep an eye on Lee’s beam set.

For the Wolverines, having Lauren Farley back in the bar and beam lineups was critical last week at Oklahoma. Farley’s presence there takes pressure off Emma McLean, allowing her to focus on her best events in vault and floor. Lineups are not quite solidified in the post-Olivia Karas era, but they are taking shape. Madison Osman was dressed for the first time this year last weekend, so look for her to possibly be a presence on vault, bars or floor. Lexi Funk has stepped into the all around in Karas’ absence, and Polina Shchennikova has consistently added beam.

Getting a strong start on vault is crucial for Michigan; if the team can put up a mid-49 score there, the Wolverines will be in a great position going into the rest of the meet. Utah is pretty consistent across all four, but the Utes are especially capable of huge numbers on vault and floor and could use a big vault number to take the lead halfway through. Keep a close eye on the third rotation. Michigan is No. 4 on beam and Utah is No. 3 on floor—both teams’ best event rankings.

Injury report: MyKayla Skinner (Utah) was limited to bars and beam last weekend with a tweaked ankle. Madison Osman (Michigan) has not yet competed in 2018 due to a knee injury but was dressed out for the first time last weekend.

The Wolverines will be wearing the many Ms leo, and will have orange ribbons in their hair. Coach Bev Plocki’s husband is battling leukemia.

Michigan projected lineups are in!

Crisler Center is rocking! Lots of blue glow sticks during march in, and a huge cheer for Olivia Karas as she marches in on crutches.

Looks like we’ll see Lauren Wong second on bars! Her NCAA debut!

Rotation 1: Michigan vault, Utah bars

Funk (UM): FTY, Some arm bend, flares it, small step. 9.775

Lewis (Utah): Pretty toes. Giant full + giant Tkatchev, some toe form. Bail hand pretty. LInes for days. DLO stuck. Awesome start. Utah fans are LOUD. 9.875

Shchennikova (UM): FTY, Good height, pretty in the air stuck, Crisler erupts! 9.8

Wong (Utah): Her NCAA debut! Short first handstand giant full Tkatchev some knees. Bail hand lovely. Full in, small step but covers it. Her team is so happy for her! Lots of hugs and cheers. 9.825

Brown (UM): FTY. Little soft in the knees, some pike, great landing. Better than some of her recent vaults.  9.775

Merrell-Giles (Utah): Toe hand, lovely, Markelov, bail hand. Her lines are wonderful. Stalder double tuck, stuck. Utah is rolling. 9.85

Townsend (UM): Y1.5, just a step forward. Pretty. 9.825

Reinstadtler (Utah): Toe half + Jaeger, bail hand. Great lines in every skill. Stuck dismount. Nice! 9.875

Zaziski (UM): FTY, HUGE. Good form the TINIEST pike, just a hop. 9.8

Lee (Utah): Hect mount. Blind + big piked Jaeger + bail, nice. Great last handstand. Blind + front giant, half, stuck double tuck. Some tiny leg breaks, otherwise very solid. 9.825

McLean (UM): FTY, think she stuck but feet were behind a scoreboard. 9.9

Skinner (Utah): Maloney, some legs, bail hand tiny tiny arch. Toe hand, pretty, full in stuck cold. 9.9

Rotation 1: Michigan 49.1, Utah 49.325.

Utah’s lines and form on bars are incredible. See that rotation in person if you can! Just lovely work top to bottom. Scoring not necessarily strict, but definitely not inflated (yet…). Michigan had some nice vaults; the Wolverines have worked to clean up some landings. Playing it a little safe with only one Y1.5, so not the biggest vault score, but a solid start.

Townsend warming up the new double front dismount. Will it make the lineup instead of the double tuck? Stay tuned!

Rotation 2: Michigan bars, Utah vault

Reinstadtler (Utah): FTY, flares, fair sized hop back. 9.7, fair for the size of the hop compared to other scores we’ve seen.

Townsend (UM): Maloney, tiny tiny leg sep + bail hand lovely. Giant full + double tuck stuck cold. No double front today. 9.85

Lee (Utah): FTY, small hop, some soft knees but otherwise really pretty in the twist. 9.75, that feels low.

Funk (UM): Giant full + Tkatchev, huge but knees and feet a problem, bail nice. Good handstands. DLO, also stuck cold. UM with the sticky feet. 9.85

Lewis (Utah): FTY, small hop back, very little pike. Best for Utah so far. 9.825, yep.

Farley (UM): Hect mount, Good handstand. Blind + piked Jaeger, little far but catches fine, some knees. Bail. Blind leg sep + double front step forward. Just little leg problems throughout. Not her best set. 9.825

Tessen (Utah): Y1.5, medium step back and to the side. Might take two steps for a little shuffle. Great form in the air. 9.75, they took two steps.

Shchennikova (UM): Maloney + pak, gorgeous as always. Those toes! Giant full + double tuck stuck, problems in the full. Got stuck halfway and broke form, but got it around. 9.8

Merrell-Giles (Utah): Y1.5, tiny hop, nice in the air and good distance. 9.85

Zaziski (UM): Tkatchev, big and nice toes. Bail hand pretty. Toe shoot. Nailed last handstand. DLO, some leg sep but big stick. The crowd LOVES it. 9.95 crowd erupts again during Skinner’s vault.

Skinner (Utah): DTY, some arm bend on table, really pulls the second twist around, but nice landing. 9.925

Brown (UM): Ray, big, catches far but doesn’t seem to cause a problem. Toe hand bail. Great rhythm in this routine. DLO, little low but finds the stick. 9.925

Roberts (Utah – exhibition): FTY, piked, but great landing – better landing than most in the lineup. That’s a nice backup.

Marinez (UM – exhibition): Short handstand. Ray, nice but arched the toe on. Bail hand crazy legs. Great last handstand. DLO, big step forward – that’s a .3 step. Nice she got to do that on senior night!

Rotation 2: Michigan 49.4, Utah, 49.1

After 2: Michigan 98.5, Utah, 98.425

It’s close friends! I love it! Both teams look good. Michigan has been a touch cleaner on landings, and that’s the difference. Utah was just missing some oompf (technical term) on vault and couldn’t drop those landings in. Next rotation should be a banger: both teams shine on their next event! Crisler is ready. Utah’s contingent here is ready. I am ready!

Rotation 3: Michigan beam, Utah floor

Funk (UM): In for Townsend last second. BHs loso, no hesitation and no movement on landing. Switch half, little wobble, doesn’t connect. Beat + popa, there’s the connection. Side aerial + full, tiny hop. She has a great carriage on the beam. 9.8

Lewis (Utah): Performing this routine from the first beat. Double pike, chest tiny bit low, but no foot movement. Fhs front lay front full, slides out of full but covers well. Switch side + split full, nice. Utah fans clapping along to “Let me hear your hands clap.” Double tuck great height! UM fans appreciate it. That was a great leadoff. 9.825, just that low chest.

Zaziski (UM): Calm movement. Cat leap + switch side, little short of the split. BHS loso, little off but doesn’t wobble. Switch + straddle 1/4, misses split a touch again. Front toss, no problems. Moon walk, grins at the crowd. Gainer full off the side stuck. 9.825

Lee (Utah): She’s so serious and it works for her. 2.5 some knees, but excellent landing and rotation. Switch+ swithc ring half, front leg a touch low. Double twist loso, nice. Much better than she warmed that pass up. Front lay front full, some arch in both, some leg sep. Not her prettiest pass but good landing. 9.8

Brown (UM): Front aerial solid. BHS loso also solid. Switch + split, pretty. She has very steady movement. Side somi big bobble, bends at waist and picks up a foot but stays on. RO double, stuck. Good finish after a bobble. 9.7

Reinstadler (Utah): Performance quality from the moment she LOOKS at the floor. Double tuck, pretty! Very calm and steady. Switch ring switch full. 1.5 front lay nice. She’s so engaging. Double pike, excellent landing. That’s a stellar routine, and the UM fans know it. 9.85. I wen’t 9.9 mentally, but I suppose they’re leaving room for the difficulty to come.

Shchennikova (UM): Press mount, pretty toes pretty lines. She has great extension through her arms. Bhs loso, small wobble + split, bigger wobble. Front aerial no problems. Beat + sheep, lovely. Side aerial + full, lands low, covers a hop with salute. Not her best. 9.725

Soloski (Utah): Pretty attitude turn. DLO, great landing. Tour jete half, not quite around. Double full, nice. Front aerial, have to get that front tumbling in! 1.5 front lay, little archy. Nice. 9.825, hit on the tour jete I’d guess.

Farley (UM): Pressure is on now after two low scores. Great attention to details: fingers, toes, head position. Switch + split solid. Bhs loso loso solid but back leg on the bhs. Crisler loves that. 1.5 turn LOVELY stays on releve even after. Side aeral + split. Gainer pike of the end stuck. That was excellent. 9.9

Merrell-Giles (Utah): Love her use of head movement in the choreo. Piked full in BIG. UM fans raise hands saying she’s OOB, but I don’t think judges caught it (and I couldn’t see her feet). Switch ring + tour jete half, nice. 1.5 punch lay some legs punch front, lost a little height. Grins at her team in the choreo. FHS rudi straddle, huge. Nice ending. 9.75, must have been out.

Marinez (UM): Jump split mount, crowd gasps. Front aerial, bobble, leg up. Bhs loso solid. Good recovery. Cat leap + side aerial, nice. Beat + split half, nice position. Fun choreo before dismount. RO double, some leg cross, small hop back. 9.775

Skinner (Utah): She’s looking at the crowd like, watch me! Double double, crowd cheers, great landing but not super hight. Tour jete full, not quite around. 1.5 through to double, pretty. Her twisting form is really nice. Punch front. Full in, some leg sep, but solid landing. Utah fans counting “10”. I don’t think so, but she’ll score well. 9.95, yep.

Roberts (Utah – exhibition): Double pike, excellent landing. Missed second pass, but good landing. Switch side, missed split, wolf full, not quite around. rudi + barani, some trouble there on the rudi landing, so the barani was off line and low. Some work to do in that routine.

Rotation 3: Michigan 49.025, Utah 49.25

After 3: Michigan 147.525, Utah 147.675

This is still pretty close, but Utah is opening up the lead. The Utes are stellar performers. They pay great attention to the details, like sight lines, head position and fingers and toes, that make a routine really shine. Michigan was wobbly on what can be its best event. No falls, but a bobbly rotation to be sure.

The Michigan dads are on the floor, being told to “do what their daughters do” i.e. poses from the floor routines. They are not feeling it, but they are getting big applause introducing themselves. I’m looking at a lot of striped overalls right now.

Rotation 4: Michigan floor, Utah beam

Stover (Utah): Front aerial, breaks at hips. Repeats, solid, bhs, got the connection. Little bobble on full turn. UM is playing do the twist? Beat + ring. Front toss, little off but covers it. This is SO not beam music. Switch + straddle. Cartwheel gainer full off the side, hop covered as salute. 9.7

Townsend (UM): Has the crowd clapping immediately. Front through to double tuck, good landing. Switch half + popa. Not extremely into the choreo, I want her to perform it more. Double pike, great landing and the crowd screams. Whip + double stuck COLD. That’s how to end a routine. 9.825

Merrell-Giles (Utah): Again, her use of head position is exquisite. Switch + split, nice. Bhs bhs loso, solid, crowd appreciates it. Front aerial + beat, nice. RO double full stuck, she had issues with that in warmups, good to see her hit it! 9.875

Funk (UM): Grinning from the start. Double pike, great landing, chest up. Switch side + popa, crowd into the choreo, jumping with her. front full (I think, missed takeoff) front lay pretty. Double tuck, another great landing. That’s a solid routine.

Soloski (Utah): Front aerial + bhs, solid, great patience and lines. Cat leap + switch half, front toe pretty crunched but nice split. Switch + split, toes. Side aerial + full, tiny hop. 9.8

Marinez (UM): Her last floor in Crisler. FHS front lay rudi, slides out of it a little. 2.5, nice rotation but steps to the side out of it. Switch half + wolf full. Double pike, leg separation but nails the landing. Lots of love from her team. 9.825

Lee (Utah): Great precision in her movement. Bhs loso, small wobble, lifts her leg. Beat + side aerial, the smallest correction but covers it well. Switch + straddle quarter, leans back a bit. RO double, some knees but good landing. 9.825

Brown (UM): Not performing the choreo as much as I’d like. 2.5, drops the landing right in. Great start. Double pike, great height lands with feet a bit apart. Tour jete half popa, nice. 1.5 front lay, big arch down and leg sep. Huge cheers for the senior’s last home floor. 9.85

Reinstadtler (Utah): Gorgeous toes. Front aerial , big bobble breaks at the hips but stays on. Bhs loso for the connection, solid. Side some, swings arms but not a big bobble. She has very fluid movement. Switch + straddle quarter nice. Cartwheel + gainer full off the side, stuck. Good finish. 9.675

Zaziski (UM): Our third last home floor in a row! Double pike, little foot shuffle back. Tour jete half + popa, really nice. Frotn lay front full, great landing. Double back, HUGE, in the sky, drops the landing in. The crowd is screaming. 9.9

Skinner (Utah): Quick, sharp movements off the bat. Bhs loso, back leg on the bhs. Side aerial + sissone, nice. Full turn a touch off but she doesn’t wobble. Switch + straddle + back tuck. RO Double tuck, really high, stuck. 9.925

McLean (UM): Double tuck, very big, bounces a touch. Tour jete half + popa, great splits. Front lay  front full solid. Grinning through her dance. Double pike, some feet but huge and excellent landing. A great routine. 9.95

Crowd realizing Michigan will take this one, screaming.

FINAL: Michigan 196.95, Utah 196.8

This was not Utah’s best showing. The Utes had a great bar rotation, and were solid on floor, but some beam bobbles and hoppy vault landings kept the score down. Michigan also had problems on beam, but was cleaner on vault and had some truly huge floor tumbling. That’s two upsets in a row for Utah. Some work to do heading toward post season.

Event Winners: 
VT: Skinner, 9.925
UB: Zaziski, 9.95
BB: Skinner, 9.925
FX: McLean, Skinner, 9.95
AA: 1. Skinner, 39.7; 2. Zaziski, 39.475; 3. Merrell-Giles, 39.325

Live blog by Emily Minehart

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