The 2019 NCAA Gymnastics season is officially underway. It was a four-team battle at the Cancun Classic in Mexico with Michigan, Iowa State, West Virginia and Rutgers competing simultaneously for the meet crown.

Michigan, the number nine team in the pre-season rankings, entered the competition as the heavy favorites to win and did not disappoint. In the first rotation they started on beam where the team had two falls back to back at the start the rotation, but the final four gymnasts all pulled through all with scores of 9.800 or better. The event was capped off by the standout freshman Natalie Wojcik, who scored a 9.925 in a clutch anchor performance.

Under the guidance of first year head coach Umme Salim-Beasley, Rutgers opened on vault with a respectable rotation. The top score came from sophomore Toni Williams who scored a 9.800. Senior Riahanah Ali followed with a 9.75.

West Virgina kicked their season off on bars. It was a rough rotation, however, freshman Esperanza Abarca from WOGA nailed her routine in her collegiate debut for a team high of 9.800. The Mountaineers finished the rotation with a 47.525 after having to count two falls.

Iowa State took the early lead after competing on floor during rotation one. The rotation was highlighted by scores of 9.800 from Sophia Steinmeyer and Molly Russ. Meaghan Sievers started her senior campaign with a team high of 9.825.

In the second rotation, Michigan took to the floor, showcasing some fun new routines. Senior Emma McClean hit a clean routine with sky-high tumbling for a 9.925. On vault, Iowa State turned in some solid Yurchenko fulls to maintain their lead. The highlight was Sophia Steinmeyer’s Yurchenko one-and-a-half for a 9.850.

Rutgers struggled on bars in the second rotation. In the leadoff spot, freshman Abigail Karolewski scored a 9.75, which would be the team’s best score for the rotation. Meanwhile, West Virginia was steady on beam for a 48.775.

Michigan headed to vault for the third rotation, where they rocked all five vaults for a team score of 49.200. In her first competition back since tearing her Achilles last season, senior Olivia Karas vaulted a beautiful Yurchenko full while fellow Senior Emma McClean also vaulted a sky-high Yurchenko full for a 9.900. The event was capped off by a set of Yurchenko one-and-a-halfs from freshmen Abby Brenner and Natalie Wojcik. Brenner scored a 9.850 and Wojcik brought in a massive 9.975 to help the Wolverines secure the lead.

The Michigan Wolverines celebrate after winning the Cancun Classic in Cancun, Mexico/Michigan Athletics

Across the way, Kirah Koshinski, the senior for West Virginia, nailed her floor routine for a 9.925. Other top scores for the rotation included a 9.850 for senior Jaquie Tun and a 9.800 for sophomore McKenna Linnen.

In the final rotation, Michigan maintained their lead with a score of 49.275 on the bars. The event was led off by freshman Maddie Mariani who scored a 9.850 in her collegiate debut. Brenner scored a 9.875 and Wojcik capped off the event with a 9.900. Michigan finished the night with a 196.050 to seal first place and win the Cancun Classic again.

Iowa State concluded their night on the beam. Sydney Converse scored a 9.725 in her first routine back since injury. Meaghan Sievers matched her career high with a 9.825 to help the Cyclones secure second place with a 194.325.

West Virginia went aggressive on vault and finished strong with a 194.150. Rutgers finished fourth with a 189.75.

Natalie Wojcik, a Level 10 JO Nationals all-around champion, proved that she’s going to be a real star for Michigan, securing her first collegiate all-around title with a 39.625. Wojcik also took home the vault, bar and beam titles while McClean took home the floor title for the Wolverines.

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