LIVE BLOG: No. 4 Minnesota at No. 3 Michigan

Hello, happy Friday and welcome to the most exciting meet of the year (for me).

It has been nearly a decade since Michigan and Minnesota faced off in a dual meet. Due to how the Big Ten does things, these teams typically only face each other at Big Fives and then again at conference championships. I have long wished for the Big Ten to change its ways—it’s hard to look at a conference like the SEC and see all the hype that is built around big face-offs and know that that kind of potential is left on the sidelines for the Big Ten. But if the strangeness of the conference-only schedule brought one positive aspect to this season, it is the opportunity it presented for this matchup to happen, and for that I am positively giddy with excitement.

Michigan kicked off its season in style last week by entering the national rankings in third place, proving what we have been talking about all preseason: This team is a national finals contender. Minnesota comes into this matchup as the underdog, but just barely. The Gophers scored only two-tenths lower in their own season opener, and that was after a strange vault rotation and some uncharacteristic mistakes on beam, which is typically their best event.

Also fun to note: Four of the top 10 all arounders in the country reside on these two team rosters: Ona Loper (ranked first), Natalie Wojcik (ranked third), Lexy Ramler (ranked fifth) and Sierra Brooks (ranked sixth). So while college gymnastics may not be about the individual, that all around battle will still be exciting to watch.

Something else that just clicked for me: this is the first match-up between two 197+ teams of the season. Love that journey for the Big Ten.

Absolutely love seeing the teams post this today:

And this:

Stats are still showing up as Michigan/Ohio State – I’ll do my best to stay up to date on scores as I see them.

Rotation 1: Michigan vault, Minnesota bars

Heiskell (UM): FTY, stuck. Nice. 9.875

Montgomery (MN): Hecht mount. straddle jaeger to overshoot, legs look cleaner this week. Short in the last handstand. Double front dismount with a step. 9.675

Brenner (UM): 1.5, Hop on the landing. 9.775

Hooten (MN): piked jaeger to overshoot, clean. Great final handstand. Double front dismount, stuck. 9.800

Wojcik( UM): 1.5 with a big step forward. 9.850

Willmarth (MN): BIG tkatchev. Great bail to handstand. Little shy on the final handstand. Blund full to double tuck, tried to hold the stick but couldn’t quite hang into it. 9.675

Morrison (UM): 1.5 – best one yet. Controlled hop forward. 9.850

Loper (MN): Holds that first handstand forever. Maloney to pak, gorgeous. Little shy on the final handstand blind full to double back, really close to the bar actually. Step back on the landing. 9.825

Brooks (UM): 1.5, she twists super fast in the air. Hops forward on the landing. 9.825

Sales (MN): Beautiful first handstand. Bail to handstand, crisp. Another good handstand. Markelov, nice. Another good handstand. DLO tiny hop back. 9.800. that feels…low to me.

Wilson (UM): 1.5, decent sized step forward. 9.875 Not sure if that’s the best one of the rotation, for me.

Ramler (MN): Maloney to pak, floaty and beautiful. Had to fight to save that HS. Van leeuwen lovely as always. FTDT, sticks it with a lean forward. Not her best. 9.875

*scores are not updating for MN, will update when they do.

After one: Michigan 49.275, Minnesota 48.975 (?) I think

Well, scoring seems more than a little tight today. Michigan is such a powerhouse on vault, although no one could get their landings under control (save for Heiskell). Not the strongest start for Minnesota, either; having to count a 9.675 on bars is not something it wants to do. Hopefully the vault rotation proves better than last week.

Rotation 2: Michigan bars, Minnesota vault

Gerdes (MN): FTY, big hop/step back.

Heiskell (UM): straddles tkatchev, nice. Pak salto down to the low bar, looked good. Great final handstand. Blind full to double back dismount, stuck. 9.900

Hooten (MN): Only the FTY today, but much better than the “no thank you, I’ll yeet instead” last week. 9.800

Mariani (UM): Big floaty tkatchev. Bail to handstand a little short. DLO stuck cold. 9.875

Ramler (MN): 1.5, one of her best I think. Stuck landing cold. 9.900

Koulos (UM): piked jaeger, some leg separation. Bail to handstand, nice. Good final handstand. DLO dismount, step back. 9.825

Loper (MN): 1.5, beautiful form as usual, just a tiny hop. 9.900

Brenner (UM): straddled jaeger to overshoot, good. Full-twisting double layout dismount, hop back. 9.825

Quarles (MN): 1.5, most powerful of the bunch, sloppy landing though – big hop/step forward. 9.800

Brooks (UM): Beautiful piked jaeger. Overshoot clean. Full-twisting double layout, hop back. 9.875

Koch (MN): just a layout again. 9.475

Wojcik (UM): Dletchev release was huge and great. Little short on her handstand after her bail. Good final handstand. DLO dismount stuck. 9.925

AFTER TWO: Michigan 98.675, Minnesota 98.125

Okay, Minnesota – I have questions about this vault lineup. In the past, at least, you’ve had other gymnasts compete FTYs with some regularity, so I am thrown by the use of Koch’s layout. Are there injuries being rested? Just merely being cautious? So many questions.

Great rotation for Michigan, glad to see some of those sticky landings carry over from last week. The Wolverines have a strong lead on Minnesota going into the back half of the meet.

Rotation 3: Michigan beam, Minnesota floor

Farley (UM): BHS LOSO LOSO to start, looked good but this is a weird camera angle and I do not like it.  Leap series was solid. Side aerial to a split jump, good – cannot tell if she is hitting 180 with this angle. Gainer pike dismount, hop. 9.875

Koch (MN): FHS to front double full to punch front, nice. Leaps look okay, little short on the split. RO back full side pass, good. Finishes with a FHS 1.5, lost a little control on the landing. 9.725

Wilson (UM): BHS LOSO , controlled. Wolf hop switch side. Biiiig dismount: double back, hop to the side. 9.825

Sonier (MN): Double pike, and she crunches that landing and that will be a fall- her ankles, youch. Sits second pass as well. I’m concerned she may be injured? Good final pass. She looks LIVID. I hope she is okay. 7.900

Mariani (UM): Side aerial to a split jump, solid. Beat switch side good. Comes off on her BHS LOSO, that’s too bad. RO 1.5 dismount with a step back 9.300

Fortman (MN): I LOVE her choreography. double L turn, little short on the second rotation. Front lay to 1.5, good. Nice and floaty back LOSO side pass. Terrible camera angle to see the ring leap, but it looked good from what I could tell. Finishes with a front lay + front full, sits it down. Damn – this is tough. 9.000

I hope she isn’t hurt – looks like she might be.

Koulos (UM): BHS LOSO, and she falls. There is something in the air. Falls on her leap series as well. What is happening today?? Pretty front aerial. Finishes with a RO 1.5, tiny step forward. 8.550

Ramler (MN): Ring full, good. Solid double pike. Ring leap, very pretty. 1.5 front layout was nice and controlled. Finishes with a 1.5 through to a double full, some legs but nails the landing. They needed this routine. 9.800

Brooks (UM): Triple series totally solid.  Great switch switch combo.. Kick front, totally controlled. One and a half dismount with a big step. 9.825

Hooten (MN): Different first pass, front double twist, step to the side. Crisp on her leap landings. FHS to front full to front pike, good. Finishes with a huge double tuck, under rotated and takes a step forward. 9.625

Wojcik (UM):  Front aerial to beat, super solid. switch to split was good. BHS LOSO LOSO, very controlled. This is the best routine by far. RO 1.5 dismount stuck. 9.950

Loper (MN): Front lay to front 1.5, good. Beautiful ring leap. Second pass is a big RO BHS 2.5. Solid. She looks very controlled and poised. Nice Y turn. Beautiful final pass. 9.925

Michigan beam exhibition.

AFTER THRE: Michigan 147.400, Minnesota 146.150

Well… not the rotation either team wanted. The floor at Crisler is somewhat notorious for being hard, and it seemed to be a factor for Minnesota when it came to tumbling. Uncharacteristic routine from Sonier, who I genuinely am concerned might have injured herself – my ankles hurt watching that double pike landing. Weird fall for Fortman as well, who up until her final pass was doing a lovely routine. Michigan also had to count a fall here, with both Koulos and Mariani falling on beam. Brooks and Wojcik were both super solid to finish out that rotation, with Wojcik in particular being practically perfect.

Rotation 4: Michigan floor, Minnesota beam

Montgomery (MN): BHS LOSO, big balance check and a big lean forward. Full turn, bobble there too. Little shy of 180 on her leap series. Punch front hop forward. RO 1.5, messy legs and a step. 9.450

Guggino (UM): Solid ouble pike. Cat leap 2/1 looks good. Switch side Popa good. Solid second pass. Front layout to 1.5, good and controlled.  Solid start for Michigan. 9.725

Nylin (MN) – in for Sonier it seems. BHS BHS LOSO, solid. Hitch kick switch side, good. RO 1.5 with  a hop. 9.800

Koulos (UM): she has fun energy on floor. 2.5 twist, little short and takes a step back.  Double pike, good. Finishes with a front lay front full, controlled step forward. 9.700

Loper (MN): BHS LOSO, covered a balance check well. Front toss beat jump, good. Connected – that was an issue last week. Switch to switch side, good. RO 1.5 tiny hop forward. 9.850

Brenner (UM): Full in, solid. One and a half front lay, looked good. Nice leap series. Finishes with a double pike, lands with chest a little low. 9.875

Korlin-Downs (MN): Candle mount looked good, nice and controlled. BHS LOSO, balance check but covers well. Switch leap to stag, lovely. Controlled full-turn. Side aerial to a full dismount, little step back. 9.800

Wojcik (UM): Double pike, beautiful.  Nice lsaps, looked controlled. Front double full front pike looked great. I love her choreography and her toe point. She’s just so lovely to watch. Rudi to straddle to finish. 9.875

Sales (MN): BHS BHS LOSO, solid. Switch leap switch side, big balance check and she comes off. Full turn, good. Finishes with a gainer pike, stuck. 9.050

Minnesota just seems OFF today.

Brooks (UM): Full in, suuuuper solid. One and a half front lay, not enough rotation and she sits it down. Finishes with a double pike, looks like she lands just a tiny bit short but covers well. 9.075

Ramler (MN): BHS LOSO – little balance check but covers well. Front aerial to wolf jump, solid. Beat jump ring, beautiful. Side aerial back full dismount, sticks it. 9.900

I know Bridget did not just call Ramler’s beautiful ring leap a stag jump.

Wilson (UM): Starts with a full in, lands short and hands come down. WHAT IS HAPPENING AT THIS MEET!? Front lay front full, beautiful form, slight step forward. Leaps are beautiful per usual. Finishes with a double tuck. 9.225

This floor seems cursed, y’all.

FINAL: Michigan 195.850, Minnesota 195.000

This was not the outcome anyone wanted or was expecting. Weird mistakes all over the place. Seemed like everyone was lacking energy. I am genuinely concerned about the status of Ali Sonier’s ankles. Le sigh. Hopefully they all rest, recover, and come back stronger next week!

All around: Wojcik 39.600
Vault: Loper, Ramler 9.900
Bars: Wojcik, 9.925
Beam: Wojcik, 9.950
Floor: Loper 9.925

Live blog by Kalley Leer

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