For the fifth straight year, the University of Michigan has proved their dominance in the Big 10 conference. This year, the wonderful night for them started on a bye but then headed to bars where they tied a season-best 49.4. Starting with a solid leadoff from Sydney Townsend (9.9), and continuing on with Lexi Funk’s 9.8. Lauren Farley showed a great routine aside from troubles on her double front dismount to score only a 9.6, the score that they’d later drop after Schenikova’s 9.85, Zaziski’s 9.9, and then Brianna Brown’s Big 10 winning, 9.950 with a stuck double layout dismount.
On beam, the Wolverines came through with a 49.325, a huge score that they can even still improve upon, with a sturdy lineup including Big Ten beam champ, Lauren Marinez and her 9.900. They showed no adversity with all scores above 9.8 aside from Brianna Brown, who after a great bar set wobbled on her series to score a 9.775, the score that they’d eventually replace.
After a second and final bye rotation, Michigan found themselves on the floor exercise, a strong event for them. Leading off with the ever so consistent, Sydney Townsend, and her 9.85 before heading to lately outstanding floor worker, Lexi Funk, who controlled all her landings to compile a 9.85 followed by Lauren Marinez’s also stellar floor routine to score another 9.85. Brianna Brown elevated the stage slightly with a 9.875 before Paige Zaziski had a slight lunge back out of her opening, powerful, double pike and then a cold stuck front layout punch front full combination pass before finishing with a controlled double tuck for a 9.9. Emma McLean replicated that score with a huge double tuck to start, a floaty front layout, front full pass in between and a strong double pike to wrap up a floor rotation of 49.375. The Wolverines would lead after 5 of 6 rotations with a cumulative score of 148.100.
Finally, the University of Michigan found themselves face to face with their final event, the vault. Would history repeat itself as the year before Michigan had also ended on the vault to clinch the Big Ten title? Indeed it did. The Wolverines only needed a sub-49 score to win the title which is something they could and did easily accomplish. We saw Polina Schenikova and Lexi Funk lead off with yurchenko fulls to score 9.800 and 9.750 respectively. Next, would be Brianna Brown who delivered with a STUCK yurchenko full to score a 9.850 out of the 9.950 start value for a yurchenko full. Sydney Townsend performed a clean 1 1/2 yurchenko (out of a 10.0 start value) with a slight step forward for a 9.850 and in the 5th spot, Paige Zaziski would follow with a flared out yurchenko full and only a slight hop back for another 9.850. This would be enough to clinch the title with still 1 vaulter to go. Emma McLean who performed the 1 1/2 twisting yurchenko that scored her a 9.975 and won her the Big Ten title last year, sat down her vault this year for only a 9.250, but this would be the score they dropped to bring together a 49.1 with what wasn’t even nearly their strongest vault rotation of the year. When all was said and done they had brought together a total of 197.200 to not only increase their RQS but also to win their 5th straight and 24th total Big Ten title.
Not only did Michigan win the Big Ten Championships, they also found themselves with Lauren Marinez as beam champion (as a senior), Brianna Brown as bars champion (also as a senior and for the second time in her career, Paige Zaziski as Big 10 gymnast of the year (the 12th Michigan gymnast to receive this award), Olivia Karas with the Big 10 Sportsmanship Award (with a torn achilles), and Coach Beverly Plocki winning her 23rd Big Ten title with the Wolverines. Go Blue!!
Congratulations to Michigan and all athletes that competed in conference championships this weekend! The top 36 teams will be seeded for regionals tomorrow at 4 p.m. EST on ESPN and regionals will be the weekend of April 7th. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more!! 🙂
*Photo credits to Getty Images. Photo via Getty Images. (Cover Photo/Thumbnail/Featured Images)