The Wolverine

August 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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36 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2021 BY JOHN BORTON B ev Plocki's talented crew of tumblers didn't allow any space for argument regarding who was best in 2021 — not at the NCAA Championships, and not among athletic programs at Michigan. The Wolverine's Female Team of the Year for 2020-21 couldn't have climbed any higher. Plocki's squad came away as national champions, unassailable in their program-changing rise to the top. With a couple of months perspec- tive, the achievement hasn't grown any less consequential. "Being a sport that isn't a revenue sport, that isn't, typically, always in the headlines, it's awesome to have hope- fully more than just our 15 minutes [of fame]," Plocki acknowledged. "These athletes worked so hard through such an incredibly difficult year. "To be able to sit back and savor the moment a little, with some addi- tional honors, is pretty special." U-M nailed down the championship at Dickies Arena in Ft. Worth, Texas, on May 17. The Wolverines did so via a stunningly sharp finish on the risky beam routine, before a packed house and a national television audience. With everything on the line, Michi- gan's big three delivered in cham- pionship style. Sophomore Sierra Brooks nailed a 9.9625 on the beam. Junior Natalie Wojcik upped the ante with a 9.9875, and junior Abby Heiskell — with all the pressure of a national championship bearing down on her — delivered a 9.9250. Those three also posted the top three NCAA all-around scores in Michigan's history — Brooks at 39.7750, Wojcik at 39.7375 and Heiskell at 39.7250. Since then, the honors — both tan- gible and intangible — have poured in. Some that won't show up in any official awards register rank among the most special, according to Michi- gan's head coach of the past 32 years. "The outreach from our alumni has been really awesome," Plocki assured. "I have a large group of alumni that have always been in touch and have always been supportive. But [this has been] even more and even bigger. "The ones who have always been in touch are just over the moon, so excited and anxious to come back and help celebrate this with us. Ones that haven't been in touch for a while, it's just so nice. Unexpectedly, one day, I got a little flower arrangement from one of our alums that I hadn't heard from in probably six or eight years. "That means the world to me. All of our alumni have a special place in my heart, and I know they go on with their lives. They get consumed with families and children and ca- reers and all the things they have go- ing on. But that has been amazing." Plocki's team — while working hard even now for a repeat perfor- mance in 2021-22 — will continue the celebration a little bit longer. They're planning a special national champi- onship celebration come fall. Women's gymnastics alums will be included in that title-touting party, Plocki noted. "I keep saying, they're the ones that paved the way for us to be set up Sophomore Sierra Brooks, junior Natalie Wojcik and junior Abby Heiskell posted the top three NCAA all-around scores in Michigan's history — Brooks at 39.7750, Wojcik at 39.7375 and Heiskell at 39.7250 — to help U-M claim the national title. PHOTO BY C. MORGAN ENGEL/NCAA PHOTOS VIA GETTY IMAGES WOMEN'S TEAM OF THE YEAR GYMNASTICS VALIANT VICTORS Women's Gymnasts Leave No Doubt About No. 1

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