Sport Summary - Gymnastics
Over the past 25 years, Michigan has dominated the sport within conference play, capturing 14 team championships and 62 individual titles. In fact, 13 of the 14 Big Ten crowns have come in the last 15 years, marking an impressive dynasty. The Wolverines won the inaugural conference championship in 1982, before yielding to Ohio State's streak of five-straight titles from 1983-87. Minnesota would reign over the standings for the next four years, with the exception of 1990 when Illinois won its lone Big Ten title. Michigan began its dominance in 1992, winning its first of six-straight championships. Spoiled for a seventh by Minnesota in 1998, the Wolverines returned to the top in 1999 and made it seven straight before being dethroned once again by the Golden Gophers in 2006.
Three Big Ten gymnasts that helped transcend the sport during each decade were Minnesota's Marie Roethlisberger (1980s) and Michigan's Beth Wymer (1990s) and Elise Ray (2000s). Roethlisberger, a three-time conference Gymnast of the Year and four-time All-Big Ten selection, led the Gophers to back-to-back championships in 1988 and 1989 and captured the NCAA Championship individual crown in the uneven bars in 1990. Wymer, a two-time Big Ten Gymnast of the Year and three-time NCAA champion (1993-95) in the uneven bars, owns a record 15 conference championship titles over her career, which is more than double of second-place Roethlisberger's seven. Wymer equaled Roethlisberger's 1989 record of four individual titles at the championship meet on three occasions in 1992, 1994 and 1995 and helped Michigan tie for second overall at the 1995 NCAA Championship. Ray ended her career with six Big Ten titles to her credit, as well as NCAA titles in the all-around (2001), balance beam (2002) and uneven bars (2004). The conference's co-Gymnast of the Year in 2005, Ray was one of 10 Wolverines and 19 league standouts to earn All-Big Ten honors in each of her four years.
One of those 19 honorees was Iowa's Alexis Maday, who was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2001 and Gymnast of the Year in 2004. A three-time champion in the floor exercise, Maday owns six total conference crowns, which ties her with Michigan's Ray and Sarah Cain (1997-2000) for third all-time in Big Ten titles.
On the sidelines, Michigan's Beverly Plocki has guided 13 of the Wolverines' 14 conference championships and has been named the Big Ten's Coach of the Year a record eight times. Minnesota's Katalin Deli, the 1989 Coach of the Year, instructed the Gophers and standouts such as Roethlisberger to stardom over a 20-year span. Jim Stephenson became her successor in 1992 and held the sole head coaching position until 1997, when he began sharing responsibilities with his wife and co-head coach Meg. In addition to the two Big Ten Coach of the Year honors he shared with Meg in 1998 and 2002, Jim was also honored as the conference's top coach in 1995 and 1997. Steve Shephard, the head coach at Penn State since 1993, shared Coach of the Year honors with Plocki in 1999 and has been responsible for producing Big Ten Gymnasts of the Year Allison Barber (1993), Missy Leopoldus (1998), Ellen Casey (1999) and two-time winner Katie Rowland (2001, 2003).