LIVE BLOG: No. 1 Michigan at No. 6 Minnesota

Another Monday, another Minnesota home meet. I’m not mad about it. The reigning national champion and the reigning Big Ten champion? Sign. Me. Up.

As exciting as last week was, I might be even more excited for this matchup. I have been yelling into the void forever about how much I wish we could get Minnesota/Michigan dual meets in lieu of them just meeting at Big Fives and Big Ten Championships. Two years in a row, this has become a reality. (Let’s hope tonight goes better than last seasons’ matchup, though, which resulted in a meet filled with uncharacteristic mistakes, an injury and scores that both teams likely want to forget.)

The last time these two teams faced off was Big Ten championships, where the Gophers pulled off a surprise but completely earned upset victory—notching their program best team score of 197.750 in the process. Repeating that performance is a tall order, but not completely out of the realm of possibility. Let’s break it down.

Vault (#1 Michigan, #8 Minnesota)

This is where the Wolverines absolutely dominate (not just the Gophers but pretty much every team in the NCAA). Not only do they have six 10.0 starts in their lineup, they are fantastic vaults with huge scoring potential. This is where the Gophers are going to want to make up some ground by possibly throwing in some new 10.0 starts of their own, which Jenny Hansen hinted they might do. Remains to be seen if that ends up coming to fruition, but I’d expect Kate Grotenhuis and Emily Koch being the most likely upgrades we’ll see tonight. I don’t necessarily think it would be the smartest move for the Gophers to throw all six 10.0 starts tonight, but I’d be lying if I said that witnessing a meet with all 12 vaults having a10.0 SV isn’t an exciting concept.

Bars (#3 Michigan, #7 Minnesota)

Typically a strong event for Minnesota, bars is a bit more up in the air this season. With Sales out of the lineups for now, they have even more juggling they need to do to put up strong routines. Last week we saw Mallory LeNeave and Halle Remlinger step into those spots, who both performed well, but scores in the 9.7s aren’t going to give them the boost they need to catch Michigan on this event.

Beam  (#5 Michigan, #13 Minnesota)

Always the biggest wildcard, beam could truly make or break either of these teams. This is the Wolverines worst event, and the one where the Gophers could most likely gain some ground. That isn’t going to happen, however, with a performance like last week where they were forced to count a 9.575 after a fall.

Floor (#1 Michigan, #3 Minnesota)

This will truly be the highlight for both teams. Michigan boasts a floor lineup of absolute superstar performances capable of scoring 9.9+ (last week the lowest score they had to count was a 9.925). This event has become Minnesota’s strongest as well, with outstanding routines from Ona Loper, a new routine from Mya Hooten (who scored a 10 last year as a freshman), and the always dependable Lexy Ramler. The Gophers also saw Halle Remlinger return to this event last week, giving a much needed boost of difficulty to the early half of this lineup.

Overall this is Michigan’s meet to lose—they have stronger routines across the board—but the Gophers will be right there and capable of capitalizing on any mistake.

Another exciting battle tonight will be for the all around title. Ramler has scored the highest so far this season (39.700) but the others are not far behind: Natalie Wojcik (39.675), Abby Heiskell (39.650) Naomi Morrison (39.575), Ona Loper (39.525), Sierra Brooks (39.500), and Gabby Wilson (39.450) are all capable of big numbers as well.

Live scores here; video here.

Some interesting tidbits from warmups:

Mya Hooten ran though beam and made me wonder if we might be seeing her AA debut tonight – but after receiving lineups, it appears that warmup lineup was a lie. That’s ok. Hopefully we will see her in exhibition tonight!

An interesting development, though: Wojcik is not in the bars lineup, instead we have freshman Jacey Vore anchoring.

I think Minnesota is definitely aiming to throw five 10.0 starts tonight – Koch is set to anchor and I’m willing to bet they want some flexibility pending on how the rest of the lineup scores.

I realize this is an unimportant observation, but those Michigan leos are SO MUCH MORE SPARKLY IN PERSON.

Rotation 1: Minnesota vault, Michigan bars

Gerdes (MIN): FTY, slight pike down and a hop back. 9.800

Heiskell (UM): Beautiful HS. Blind to jaeger. Pak down to switch kip, good. Arches over a little bit on final handstand. Blind full double back, looked stuck but my angle to catch landings isn’t the best. 9.825

Hooten (MIN): Clean Y1.5, takes a step to the side. 9.850

Brenner (UM): Blind to jaeger to overshoot, good. Stuck DLO dismount. 9.900

Ramler (MIN): Y1.5, normal knees but stuck it cold. 9.975

Morrison (UM): Geinger with BEAUTIFUL FORM. Wow. Bail to HS, stick straight. Finishes with a DLO. Beautiful. 9.850

Quarles (MIN): STUCK HER 1.5. This is turning into a big rotation for the Gophers. Ramler set her up, will she get a 10? Nope. 9.950. I disagree that Ramler’s was better but thats fine.

Not sure why there is a delay at the moment, but  –

Wilson (UM): Blind to piked jaeger, catches a littel bit close. Bail to HS is sharp. Finishes with DLO stuck. 9.900

Loper (MIN): STUCK HER 1.5. Not sure what’s in the water in MN tonight, but damn. 10!!

I’d like to point out Ona is getting big cheers from Michigan and Bev as well. My heart. I love the Big Ten.

Brooks (UM): Bail to HS, lovely. Little shy on her final handstand. FTDL with a tiny hop. 9.850

Koch (MIN): Tucked 1.5, lands a little short and takes a step back to the side. 9.725

Vore (UM): Maloney lovely, bail to handstand good. Finishes with a beautiful final HS. DLO stuck. Great debut for the freshman! 9.900

Jencks (MIN) exhibition: FTY, little crooked off the table with a hop to the side.

AFTER ONE: Minnesota 49.575, Michigan 49.400

That was an absolute fire rotation for the Gophers, I am unwell. They were only 0.25 off of matching their program record. It was absolutely electric in here. Ski-U-OMG, if you will. Anyway.

Michigan also looked lovely as usual on bars and I have zero doubt they will make up the gap with their normal vault rotation. Exciting to see Vore make her debut, we love seeing some added depth to the Wolverines’ lineups.

Rotation 2: Minnesota bars, Michigan vault

Guggino (UM): Y1.5, stuck. Challenge accepted. 9.925

Remlinger (MIN): Ray, good. Toe on to bail to HS. Shy of vertical on her final HS but sticks her FTDT dismount. 9.800

Wojcik (UM): Y1.5, gorgeous form in the air. Lands with a hop forward. 9.875

LeNeave (MIN): Tkatchev, solid. Short HS. Bail to HS, good. Good final HS, finishes with a FTDT, tries to hold the stick but takes a step back. 9.800

Heiskell (UM): Y1.5, hop forward. 9.900

Willmarth (MIN): Ray , catches a touch short. Beautiful bail to HS. Little shy final HS, blind full to double back, stuck.  9.875

Morrison (UM): Y1.5, gorgeous in the air, the tiniest hop forward it looked like maybe? Hard to tell if it was forward or a little bend in the knees in place from my angle 9.975

Loper (MIN): Maloney to pak, good. Beautiful HS. A touch shy of vertical on her last HS. Blind full to double back, small hop forward. 9.900

Brooks (UM): Y1.5, looked pretty stuck to me? but I can’t really see feet/landings from this angle.  9.950

Hooten (MIN): Blind change to jaeger, sky high. Bail to HS, good. Finishes with a FTDT, hop forward. 9.800

Wilson (UM): Y1.5, lots of height and beautiful form but a definite hop on the landing. 9.925

Ramler (MIN): Maloney to pak, just perfect form and toes.; Gorgeous van leeuwen; toe handstand; FTDT stuck. They eventually have to give this a 10, right? Not tonight. The crowd is booing. 

Brenner (UM) EXH: Y1.5, some form issues in the air and looks like she landed short and took a step back to the side.

Jencks (MIN) EXH: Tkatchev to bail to HS, some leg separation. Shy final HS. DLO with a hop back.

AFTER TWO: Michigan 99.075, Minnesota 98.900

I AM UNWELL. This meet is so, so good. Michigan is unbelievable on vault. Honestly disappointed Morrison didn’t get a 10 for hers, from my angle it looked really good and after peeping the replay on Michigan’s twitter, I am even more perplexed. But it was still an exceptional rotation for the Wolverines and exactly what they needed.

Minnesota had a super solid bars rotation as well, but staying mostly in the 9.8s allowed Michigan to catch up. Minnesota is on pace for a program best team score, but that is a tall order with beam standing in the way still.

Rotation 3: Minnesota beam, Michigan floor

Koch (MIN): full turn, balance check and bend at the waist. BHS LOSO, knees a bit bent but solid. beat jump to split 3/4, looked shy of 180. front toss to scale, slow and controlled and lovely. Finishes with a RO 1.5, mostly holds the stick but had to extend up on her toes to do so. 9.775

Heiskell (UM): Opens with a double arabian, lands in a deep squat. 1.5 to front lay. Switch side wolf full, looked clean. Ends with a double pike, chest a little low but otherwise fine. 9.825

Tyson (MIN): Slight balance check on the full turn to start. BHS BHS LOSO, super solid – this is where she came off last week; switch leap to straddle quarter, good. Finishes with a RO 1.5, big step forward. 9.775

Brenner (UM): Big full in to start. 1.5 to front lay, good. Leaps looked good. Finishes with a big double pike, takes a slightly uncontrolled lunge out of it. 9.875

Loper (MIN): BHS LOSO, controlled and floaty. Piked kick over front, solid. Switch leap to straddle quarter, tiny balance check;.RO 1.5 dismount stuck. LOPER IS HAVING A DAY. 9.900

Wojcik (UM): Double pike, beautiful form. Tour jete half to Popa, super controlled landing. Double full front pike stuck. Rudi to straddle, gorgeous. Wow. 9.925

Sonier (MIN): BHS LOSO, lovely. Bend at the waist during her leap series. Finishes with BHS 1.5 and a step back. MN will want to drop this one most likely, but nice seeing her back in this lineup. 9.650

Morrison (UM): Ok I love her music. This is a vibe. Anyway. Half in half out, the tiniest step to the side. Front lay front full, again not a completely controlled landing but form is lovely. Double back to end, lots of height. 9.950

Pearl (MIN): Overshoots her full turn a bit. BHS LOSO, huge balance check and leg comes up but she stays on.  Front aerial, again I wonder if she intends to connect to something. Switch to split jump, another little balance check.  RO back 1.5 dismount, flares out a bit but lands a little short and takes a step back. 9.525

Brooks (UM): BEAUTIFUL full in to start, stuck. Punch front through to double back, takes an uncontrolled step out of that one, but so much height on the double back. Tour jete half split full was good. Strong double pike to finish. 9.950

Ramler (MIN): BHS LOSO, solid as always. Front aerial to beat jump. Beat jump to ring jump, covers the tiniest balance check like a pro; side aerial back full dismount stuck. You know, her usual. 9.925

Wilson (UM): Open full in, so good. Front full front lay front tuck, super controlled. Finishes with a gorgeous double back. That was… unreal.

Super solid exhibition routine from Katie Horak, could easily see that making lineups. Looks like she went 9.775

Floor exhibition from Jenna Mulligan as well. Looks like that also went 9.775

AFTER THREE: Michigan 148.725, Minnesota 147.925

That was not the rotation Minnesota wanted. Beam is turning into more of a problem event than it usually is for the Gophers; I anticipate some more lineup shuffling to happen in the early season while they work out some issues there. Also, Sales is missed in this lineup and I assume she’ll be back in it as soon as she is healthy.

Michigan just… well, killed it on floor. As expected. Half a tenth shy of the program record.

Michigan is on pace for a program best tonight if beam goes well.

Rotation 4: Minnesota floor, Michigan beam

Morrison (UM): BHS LOSO, good. I have someone standing right in front of me which is not helpful. Full turn, solid. Finishes with gainer pike and a hop forward. 9.750

Koch (MIN): FHS front double full to tuck front, nice and controlled. Tour jete looked a touch shy of 180, half to wolf full was good; RO full side pass. Finishes with a FHS to rudi, good. 9.925

Wilson (UM):  I saw two things in this routine due to someone standing directly in front of me, but one of them was her sky high double back so that’s a win. Slight step on the dismount. 9.850

LeNeave (MIN): RO BHS double pike, good landing. Switch half to wolf full, hard to tell from here but looked solid. RO 1.5 front lay, lacked some amplitude but she managed just fine. Finishes with RO BHS double back, cowboyed, chest very low on that landing. 9.675

Guggino (UM): Solid full turn to start. BHS LOSO, good control. Split jump straddle half, nice. Side somi, good. This is a very solid routine. RO 1.5 dismount with a big step forward. 9.850

Ramler (MIN): Ring full to start, little bouncy landing. Second combo pass was lovely and controlled, less leg issues in the twisting than I’ve seen before. Stuck her FHS rudi. RO 1.5 to front lay, gorgeous. This should be a good score. One judge went 10. 9.975

Brooks (UM): BHS LOSO LOSO, great. Switch switch, lovely. Front toss was excellent. This is a fabulous routine. Nailed her dismount as well. 9.950

Remlinger (MIN): Big full in to start, controlled landing. Switch side to popa had lots of height. RO 1.5 to front lay, lovely. Finishes with double tuck, little kick out of the landing but otherwise good. 9.900

Heiskell (UM): Cat leap to side aerial, bend at the waist. Switch switch, balance check but covers very well. BHS LOSO, good. RO to sky high 1.5 dismount and a hop. 9.700

Loper (MIN): Front lay to very high and floaty rudi, good. Leaps looked good. Big 2.5 second pass, cross step forward. Finishes with RO 1.5 to front lay, beautiful. 9.925

Wojcik (UM): Front aerial with a lean. Switch to split, good. BHS BHS LOSO, super solid. Controlled full turn. Stuck RO 1.5 dismount

Hooten (MIN): Opens with a huge full in, Switch side popa good. FHS front full front pike, that pike was super high? stuck cold too. Finishes with a double back, great. The crowd is so loud. I think MN beat their floor record tonight. TEN FOR HOOTEN!!

Michigan breaks 198!! Minnesota shatters their floor record!! I am deceased. Best meet I’ve ever seen. The end.

FINAL: Michigan 198.025, Minnesota 197.650

AA: Ramler, 39.825
VT: Loper, 10
UB: Ramler, 9.950
BB: Brooks, 9.950
FX: Hooten, 10

Live blog by Kalley Leer

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