Kinsey Davis on beam

LIVE BLOG: No. 1 Michigan at No. 27 Nebraska

Hello from the Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Nebraska! This is the building where I became a college gymnastics fan nearly 20 (!) years ago, and I can’t wait to follow the action with you as the top-ranked Wolverines come to town. This has been a storied rivalry for decades, and while it has recently become a bit lopsided, we should still see some great gymnastics from both teams. After last weekend’s Big Five competitions, today will mark the end of regular season conference matchups in the Big Ten. Michigan clinched the regular season title and is a lock for the evening session of the championship meet. Nebraska vaulted up the conference rankings after a strong performance, and could be looking at a berth in the evening session if it manages the upset today. Winning against the defending champs will be a tall order, but you can bet the Huskers would love to make it happen.

Michigan comes into this matchup after another strong performance on the road, winning its session of the Big Five meet with a 197.950. The Wolverines nearly swept the event titles, with junior Gabby Wilson and sophomore Reyna Guggino tying for the vault title (9.975), senior Natalie Wojcik winning bars (9.950), Wilson taking the floor title (9.975) and senior Abby Heiskell winning the all around (39.475). Wilson was named the Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week for her efforts. With a regular season crown locked up and a gigantic meet against No. 2 Oklahoma next weekend, Michigan may use this afternoon as an opportunity to rest key competitors. Can the Wolverines maintain their dominant team scores while testing their depth?

Nebraska has struggled with injuries this season, losing top vaulter Anika Dujakovich in the fall and only seeing potential all arounder Kynsee Roby compete in three meets so far. The Huskers had trouble putting together a complete meet, but that all changed last weekend. Nebraska put up a season-high 196.750 to knock off Minnesota and finish second in its session of the Big Five meet. The score was its best since February 2020, and was led by season-high marks on bars and floor. Junior Clara Colombo set a personal best to win bars with a 9.900, and junior Kathryn Thaler captured the beam title with a 9.950. The Huskers will look to continue this upward swing in the last few weeks of the season, as the opportunities to lock in a spot at regionals are dwindling. Sophomore Kinsey Davis and freshman all arounder Emma Spence will be key parts of this effort. While a win would be huge for Nebraska, a nice score that will boost the team’s NQS would be almost as sweet.

Nebraska is debuting another new leo this afternoon!

Michigan wearing the burst leo today!

It’s also the Drive Out Hate Meet. We’ve got a nice crowd, cheerleaders, and the BTN camera crews in the building. It’s warming up outside, but inside is where the real fire is about to be! Let’s get started!

Update: Martina Comin is warming up on vault! This will be her first meet since January 29! (Post-meet) Gabby Wilson rested on all events today.

Rotation 1: Nebraska VT, Michigan UB

Higgins (NEB): Under rotates the Yurchenko full and lands with chest down, takes a large step forward. Not a great start. 9.450

Morrison (MICH): Nails the first handstand, huge Geinger, short on the next handstand, great transition and final handstand, floats the double layout and lands with a hop forward. 9.850

Spence (NEB): Great Yurchenko full! Plenty of height and distance, just a hop back. 9.775

Brenner (MICH): Perfect first handstand, big Yaeger and bail transition, nails the last handstand, sticks the double layout! 9.900

Piringer (NEB): Sticks the Yurchenko full! Nice height and form in the air. 9.800

Heiskell (MICH): Nails the opening handstand, good Yaeger and cast afterward, perfect Pak salto, nails the final handstand, sticks the double tuck dismount! Michigan looking like Michigan. 9.950!

Hall (NEB): Big Yurchenko full, but is a big high on the table and under rotates. Lands with chest down and a big step forward. 9.450

Brooks (MICH): Great first handstand, piked Yaeger, lands the bail right on top of the bar, nails the last handstand, just the tiny hop on the full-twisting double layout. Wow! 9.900

Davis (NEB): Nearly sticks the Yurchenko full! A bit of knee bend on the block and is leaning forward on the landing but tries to salute out of it. 9.850

Wojcik (MICH): Great first handstand, ridiculous air on the Deltchev, barely catches it but keeps the swing just fine, good final handstand, nice double layout with a hop forward. 9.875

Curtis (NEB): Good Yurchenko full, a bit of pike in the air and a hop back. 9.725

Vore (MICH): A tiny bit short on the low bar handstand, hits the transitions well, nails the last handstand, floaty double layout a bit close to the bar and lands with a hop back. 9.875

Comin (NEB, exhibition): Big Yurchenko full with a sizable hop back. Great to see her back out there!

Koulos (MICH, exhibition): Good opening handstand, floaty Yaeger, good handstand in the bail, hits the final handstand, great double layout with a hop back! A great depth option for them.

AFTER ONE: Michigan 49.500, Nebraska 48.600

Not a great opening rotation for the Huskers on vault, having to count the equivalent of a fall. They really needed to nail landings to put themselves in position for a good score. Michigan did a great job on bars as always, but could have nailed a few more landings for some massive scores. Still, the Wolverines are very comfortably in front and on the way to another huge number on the road.

Rotation 2: Michigan VT, Nebraska UB

Guggino (MICH): Fall on the Yurchenko one and a half, a rare sight from Michigan. Not the way the Wolverines would have wanted to start. 9.325

Thaler (NEB): Good low bar handstand, Maloney to Pak done well, a bit out of control on the handstand pirouette, a bit short on the final handstand, full pirouette not quite on top of the bar, just a step on the double back dismount though. Good start. 9.700

Wojcik (MICH): Another fall! Hmmm. This could be getting interesting. 9.325

Gibson (NEB): Nice low bar handstand, good transitions, hits the final handstand, a bit of pike on double layout and a small step on landing. She should be one to watch on this event in the future. 9.775

Heiskell (MICH): Huge Yurchenko one and a half, a bit too much power (understandable after the falls) and takes a big step forward. Back on track though. 9.850

Colombo (NEB): Great opening handstand, floaty piked Yaeger, good Pak, nice final handstand, sticks the double back dismount! The whole team is excited. 9.900!

Morrison (MICH): Nearly stuck one and a half, a tiny bit off to the side and a small hop forward. 9.875

Spence (NEB): Great low bar handstand, hits the Maloney to Pak, nails the final handstand, full pirouette to a stuck double tuck! Must feel great after the fall last weekend. 9.875!

Brooks (MICH): Nails the one and a half! Fabulous vault. The Wolverines are fighting to salvage this rotation. It’s a 10.000!!!!! So happy for her.

Davis (NEB): Great handstands to start, hits the Hindorff, winds up for the dismount and nails the double layout! Wow! 9.975!

Brenner (MICH): Oh my gosh, another fall! That’s devastating after the high Michigan must have just felt. 9.200

Simpton (NEB): Short on the low bar handstand, good transitions and low bar pirouette, a big step on the double layout dismount but a good routine for the freshman. 9.775

Mulligan (MICH, exhibition): Beautiful Yurchenko full! Nice height, distance and form in the air. Might be a good option if the one and a halves bite back like they did this afternoon.

Rotation 2 Scores: Michigan 48.375, Nebraska 49.300

AFTER TWO: Nebraska 97.900, Michigan 97.875

Yeah, you read that right. Michigan’s two counting falls put it .025 behind Nebraska at the halfway point. Still a very doable win, but it will likely be a season-low score. What an absolutely weird rotation for the Wolverines, with the huge high of Brooks’s well-deserved first career 10.000, and three falls. They’ll look to regroup on floor, where they’re also No. 1 in the country. Nebraska has improved tremendously on bars, and it showed today with a season-high score! Spence, Colombo, and Davis all tied or set career highs, so good for them! Now it comes down to the all-important beam.

Rotation 3: Nebraska BB, Michigan FX

Spence (NEB): Candle mount to start, good wolf turn. Nails the front aerial to bhs bhs series. A bit of a lean forward on the side somi but nothing major. Another lean on the switch leap but still connects. Sicks the one and a half dismount! Great start for the Huskers! 9.775

Guggino (MICH): Way too much power on the double pike and takes several steps out of bounds. Something’s in the air today! Better second pass, front layout front full punch front. Just a small landing deduction as the foot kind of gets suck. Finishes with a Rudi, well-controlled. They’ll want to drop that one. 9.350

Curtis (NEB): Nails the bhs loso loso series! A bit of a lean on the full turn. Good switch leap split jump. Sticks the one and half dismount! No crazy back bend this time. More of a slow salute. 9.875

Brenner (MICH): Great full-in tucked, no landing trouble. One and a half to front layout done with perfect control. Nails the leap pass. Strong double pike to finish, front leg moves a tiny bit on the lunge back but nothing major. Okay, nooooow they’re back on track. 9.850

Colombo (NEB): Switch leap to split jump, a tiny pause but I think they’ll give her the connection. Perfect, floaty bhs loso series! Nails the front aerial to split jump combo. Good full turn. A tiny hop on the side aerial tucked full dismount. Another great routine for Nebraska! 9.825…with a 9.900-9.750 split. Girl, what?

Heiskell (MICH): Great double Arabian to start, one of the best she’s done in a while. Leg slips out from her on the one and a half to front layout, but that shouldn’t be much of a landing deduction, just looked weird. Nails the double pike to finish! Great routine. 9.950! One judge flashed the 10.

Higgins (NEB): A bit unsure on the sheep jump, but just a minor wobble. Nails the bhs bhs loso series and the full turn. Nice straddle jump. Step back on the gainer pike dismount. Great recovery after vault! 9.800

Wojcik (MICH): Floaty front double punch front pike, legs stutter on landing and I think she went out of bounds? We’ll have to see. Bounces out of the double pike second pass but stays in bounds for sure. Great Rudi punch straddle jump last pass. She’s not thrilled with that one. 9.700. She did go out of bounds.

Davis (NEB): Good leap combo to start. Tiny adjustment on the bhs bhs loso series but nothing major. She’s smiling up there. Perfect full turn. Sticks the side aerial tucked full dismount! Nebraska survives beam! 9.825

Morrison (MICH): Great half in half out to start! Second pass front layout front full, well-controlled. No trouble with the leap pass. Great double back to finish. Not much to take from that one. 9.950

Thaler (NEB): Comes off on the front aerial, has to repeat the front aerial bhs series and nails it. Great switch leap beat jump. Another big wobble on the front toss, takes some steps but doesn’t come off. Sticks the one and a half dismount. Fought through that one. 9.175

Brooks (MICH): Nails the full-in tucked to start. Front through to double back. No trouble with the leaps. Fabulous double pike to finish! They’ll drop that opening score and launch into the lead. 9.975!

Hall (NEB, exhibition): Nice full turn to start, stays on high toe. Perfect bhs loso series! Huge air on the switch leap to split jump, with a bit of a pause. Tiny wobble on the front aerial but fights to connect the jump out of it. Hop forward on the one and a half dismount. She’s been in the beam lineup before, and it’s easy to see why after that routine. 9.725

Koulos (MICH, exhibition): Front layout front full front tuck, well-controlled. No problem with the straddle jump to twisting straight jump. Finishes with a two and a half twist, good control as well. Nice to see all of the exhibitions today!

Rotation 3 Scores: Nebraska 49.100, Michigan 49.425

AFTER THREE: Michigan 147.300, Nebraska 147.000

Well, it’s still close after three rotations, but Michigan more than recovered on floor to pull back in front. The Wolverines have looked off but also like normal, it’s hard to explain. That will definitely be a factor on the balance beam, where they’ve had some of their only errors in past meets. Nebraska isn’t out of this one, but will need to nail floor, an event it has had some consistency issues on so far this season. More importantly though, the Huskers are on pace for a 196, which would serve them well in the NQS as more teams join the rankings. It all comes down to this!

Rotation 4: Michigan BB, Nebraska FX

Morrison (MICH): A bit off on the candle mount and leans, but nothing major. Great bhs loso series. Switch half to beat jump, no problems. Great full turn. Sticks the gainer pike dismount! Great start! 9.775

Spence (NEB): One and a half through to double full, a bit of a large step but a unique and fun pass. Nails the double wolf turn. Strong leap pass. Excellent double back to finish! She’s so much fun to watch. 9.850

Guggino (MICH): Nice full turn to start. Floats the bhs loso series. Excellent straddle leap combo. Solid side somi. Back handspring one and a half dismount, just a step back. Solid routine. 9.800. Seems a bit low.

Hall (NEB): Big double back to start, tries for the stick but takes a small step forward. Rudi second pass, excellent leap pass. Front layout front full to finish, great control. She’s thrilled! Might be her best of the season so far. 9.900!

Brooks (MICH): Bhs loso loso series, tiny lean. Good switch leap switch leap series. Nails the front toss. Nearly sticks the double back dismount! Just a bit off to the side and comes out of the landing early. She’s been money today. 9.850

Curtis (NEB): Great double pike to start. Front layout front full, well-controlled. A bit short of splits in the leap series but not too noticeable. Big step back on the double back, and lands with the chest down, but overall a strong routine! The Huskers are fighting for this one. 9.850

Heiskell (MICH): Nails the side aerial to start. Great switch leap switch leap. Wobble on the bhs loso series, also a tiny step back on the beam. Not too bad. One and a half dismount with a tiny step on landing. 9.750

Kuenemann (NEB): Big double back to start, a small bounce back on landing. Great form on the front layout to front full. A bit low on the leap pass. Finishes strong with a one and a half to front layout. Another season best likely incoming for the freshman. 9.725. Never mind haha.

Wojcik (MICH): Perfect front aerial to beat jump. Floaty switch leap to split jump, no wobbles. Bhs bhs loso series, dead on. Another perfect full turn. Fights for the stick on the one and half dismount! She’s been struggling a bit today, and that was redemption big time. Should be huge. 9.900

Piringer (NEB): Huge double tuck with too much power, bounces out of it but stays in bounds. She’s trained the double layout and almost needed it there. Front layout front full, bends the knees to land the second skill. Nails the double pike to finish! Nebraska will get the 196! 9.800

Vore (MICH): Good flight series, not a wobble. Front toss nailed. Good leap series. Sticks the one and a half dismount! That’ll seal up this surprisingly close meet. 9.850

Higgins (NEB): Crooked on the front double twist and steps to the side. Hops out of the Rudi but nothing major. Great straddle leap series. Beautiful one and a half to front layout lass pass. Closes out her day in style!

Koulos (MICH, exhibition): Moving fluidly so far. Front aerial to bhs. Front aerial to one-armed front handspring stepout. Big lean on the side leap. Full turn done well. Sticks the one and a half dismount. Another strong exhibition for her. 9.625

Rourke (NEB, exhibition): Nearly falls on the double pike, knees buckle but I don’t think they touch. Much better landing on the double back. Strong leap series. One and a half to front layout to finish, good for her to be back out on the floor.

Rotation 4 Scores: Michigan 49.175, Nebraska 49.225

FINAL RESULTS: Michigan 196.475, Nebraska 196.225

Well, that was an interesting one, wasn’t it? Michigan hit a critical (if underscored, in my opinion) beam rotation to take the win, although the Huskers edged closer with a strong showing on floor. Great showing for Nebraska after the tough start on vault! The Huskers get closer to the Wolverines than anyone so far this season, but unfortunately Michigan gave them a lot of help. The defending champs looked vulnerable today, although Brooks was characteristically fabulous and finally joins the 10.000 club. Maybe Michigan got all of its falls out of the way this afternoon? It certainly won’t be able to have a performance like this next week and come away with the win. It will be vital the Wolverines put this one behind them, and fast.

Event Winners

VT: Brooks (MICH) 10.000

UB: Davis (NEB) 9.975

BB: Wojcik (MICH) 9.900

FX: Brooks (MICH) 9.975

AA: Brooks (MICH) 39.725

Ryan’s Stories of the Night

Nebraska has improved tremendously since the start of the season, and nearly stole this one away from the struggling Wolverines. The Huskers are a relatively inexperienced team, but they might be making a run at the postseason if they keep this up. Michigan looked truly vulnerable for the first time in 2022, but thankfully this won’t affect its NQS, and it will likely stay No. 1. The Wolverines are still the leaders of the pack, but this meet will have people wondering if they peaked a bit too soon. Oklahoma next weekend could perhaps be season-defining.

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Live blog by Ryan Wichtendahl

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