Bluewater Gymnastics grad flourishing

Talia Chiarelli of Sarnia’s Bluewater Gymnastics Club is having an outstanding sophomore season with the University of Michigan’s program in Ann Arbor. Photo courtesy University of Michigan Athletics

Barry Wright

Talia Chiarelli is having an outstanding sophomore season wearing the Maize and Blue with the University of Michigan women’s gymnastics program.

The Bluewater Gymnastics product has no fewer than 17 top three finishes this season, including a tie for first place in the Floor Exercise at the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor late last month.

The sixth-ranked Wolverines won the conference title in their home gym and now advance to the NCAA Regionals at Ohio State on Saturday, April 4.

The top two teams from each of the six regional events qualify for the national championship in Texas later in April.

If the Wolverines advance from their region and fifth-ranked Alabama advances from its, Chiarelli will meet former teammate Dominique Pegg at nationals.

“We’re definitely confident,” said Chiarelli.  “I think at this point in time it’s just maintaining what we already have and keeping that consistency that we’ve had all year.”

The Wolverines lost many athletes to graduation at the end of last season, but the program has gone above and beyond expectations, said Chiarelli, noting her own second season has gone smoother than her first.

The 19-year-old was also recently named an Academic All-Big Ten Team.

“She has had an incredible season,” said Wolverines Head Women’s Gymnastics Coach Bev Plocki.

She says it’s unfortunate Chiarelli doesn’t get as much media attention as an all-around competitor, since she only competes in three of four events due mainly to a back injury suffered while training for the 2012 Olympics. But she says the sophomore is a good at the events she does compete in as anyone the program has or has had in the past.

Plocki points to the fact Chiarelli hit 100% of her routines in her freshman year and has fallen only once this season.

“We’re thrilled,” Plocki concluded, noting the daughter of Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has consistently had scores of 9.9 or better all season long.

“She has absolutely lived up to everything that I thought she would be able to do. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

After stepping away from the Canadian Olympic Gymnastics Team in 2012 due to back problems, Chiarelli doesn’t see herself having the desire or time to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.

“I think that’s a closed chapter for me,” she said.