The Wolverine

January 2024

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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56 THE WOLVERINE ❱ JANUARY 2024 BY ANTHONY BROOME L ast season was not the storybook ending that the Michigan women's gymnastics team desired. Hoping to win a national title for the second time in three years, the Wolverines were booted from the NCAA Tournament on a tie- breaker in the regional final. For head coach Bev Plocki and com- pany, this offseason was all about going back to work. "We felt that we had a great season last year that did not end the way that we wanted it to," Plocki told host Jon Jansen on the "Conqu'ring Heroes" podcast. "Unfortunately, that was the second year in a row that we didn't have the ending quite that we wanted to with the finish. It made us hungry over the summer. We worked very hard and looked very much forward to the start of this year." Former AAI Award winner Natalie Wojcik has moved on, but Michigan has a pair of graduate students in Sierra Brooks and Gabby Wilson in addition to a roster full of up-and-comers. It has encouraged Plocki that more competi- tion is on the way. "I am excited about some of the things that I'm seeing in the gym," Plocki said. "It's just really making sure that the athletes have confidence in their performance, that they're com- peting aggressively and hopefully with- out nerves. We don't ever want an ath- lete to go out there and be nervous and worried if they're going to be able to make a routine. "You want them to go out there and be confident and aggressive in their performance. I've heard it said that you either compete 15 percent better or 15 percent less in competition. Some- times you see the people that either take that step up or step down when it comes to nerves in competition. Hope- fully, we will see that people will get out there under the lights and with the excitement get a little bit of adrena- line, and we want to see that step up in competition. That's what we're look- ing for." Last year's tiebreaker saw Michigan lose out to LSU after the six scores from all four regional events were added up. It led to a season of unfulfilled promises, and Plocki admitted that it took some time to get over. Now, the goal is to make sure it never happens again. "It took us a little while to kind of pick ourselves back up from that," Plocki said. "Once we did, we got back into the gym, and I think 'determination' would be the word I would use to come back and talk a lot about, not allowing our- selves to be in that gray area. "You don't ever want to be in a gray area where the judge is going to be able to define you. You want to make it so clear-cut that you're the better team, that there just is not a gray area. So, that's what I think our mindset has been in terms of working and then emphasiz- ing that we have spots in our lineup that need to be filled, and we have people that we need to keep working hard to step up." Michigan finished first of four teams in an exhibition meet in Ann Arbor on Dec. 3 with Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan. The season gets going officially on Jan. 5-7 at the Super 16 event in Las Vegas. ❏ ❱  OLYMPIC SPORTS UPDATE Bev Plocki, U-M Gymnastics Looking To Avoid 'Gray Area' In 2024 Plocki's Wolverines were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament last season on a tiebreaker in the regional final. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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