Jan. 10, 2014
Site: Ames, Iowa (Hilton Coliseum)
U-M Team Result: 1st of 3 Teams (196.525)
Records: U-M (2-0), Iowa State (1-2), Illinois State (0-3)
Next U-M Event: Friday, Jan. 17 -- at North Carolina State, vs. North Carolina, vs. Towson (Raleigh, N.C.), 7 p.m.
AMES, Iowa -- The No. 7-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team kicked off the 2014 season in style, scoring 196.525 to cruise to an opening night tri-meet win over Iowa State (194.600) and Illinois State (187.400) on Friday (Jan. 10) inside Hilton Coliseum.
Senior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) won the all-around (39.325), floor exercise (9.925) and tied for first on balance beam (9.825) with freshman Nicole Artz (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa), while fifth-year senior Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch) won uneven bars (9.900) and sophomore Austin Sheppard (Murphy, Texas/Plano East) won vault (9.900).
The three teams alternated routines throughout the evening, with Michigan starting on uneven bars. Beilstein led the team with a 9.900 out of the anchor spot, beautifully sticking her full twisting double layout to push Michigan over the 49.000 mark as a team. Other top scorers included senior Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) at 9.875, just one quarter-of-a-tenth off her career high in her first meet of the season and junior Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) at 9.825 in the second position. The Wolverines scored 49.050 as a team.
Michigan's two rookies were put under pressure right away, occupying the first two spots on the balance beam for their first routines as a college gymnast. Artz put down a clean routine to score a 9.825, followed by Talia Chiarelli (Boston, Mass./Lexington) with a 9.775, deducted slightly for a balance check and a small hop on the landing. Sampson was also strong on beam, tying Artz for the team lead (9.825). At the halfway point, Michigan led the tri-meet with 97.950, one full point ahead of second-place Iowa State (96.950).
The freshmen once again provided a spark on floor. Chiarelli was a last-minute add to the lineup and actually led off, but didn't show any nerves, setting the table with a solid 9.850 routine. Two routines later, Artz wowed the judges with a clean 9.900 routine, highlighted by great height and a stuck landing on her double pike. The rotation was capped by the reigning national champion Sampson, who led all gymnasts with a 9.925, cleanly hitting all three tumbling passes.
The Wolverines closed out the meet on vault, scoring 49.200 as a team. The top three scores came from Sugiyama, who had just a small step on her Yurchenko 1 1/2 to score a 9.850. In the last two spots, Sampson (9.875) and Sheppard both nailed their Yurchenko fulls with only slight steps on landings.
The Wolverines are on the road again next Friday (Jan. 17), facing North Carolina State, North Carolina and Towson in a quad meet in Raleigh, N.C. The meet will begin at 7 p.m.
Event Winners/U-M Finishers
Vault Brooke Parker 9.725 Reema Zakharia 9.775 (5) Sachi Sugiyama 9.850 (3) Natalie Beilstein 9.800 (4) Joanna Sampson 9.875 (2) Austin Sheppard 9.900 (1) Uneven Bars Annette Miele 9.675 Sachi Sugiyama 9.825 (t3) Shelby Gies 9.875 (2) Austin Sheppard 9.750 Joanna Sampson 9.700 Natalie Beilstein 9.900 (1) Balance Beam Nicole Artz 9.825 (t1) Talia Chiarelli 9.775 (t3) Shelby Gies 9.775 (t3) Reema Zakharia 9.700 Joanna Sampson 9.825 (t1) Lindsay Williams 9.025 Floor Exercise Talia Chiarelli 9.850 (t4) Sachi Sugiyama 9.725 Nicole Artz 9.900 (2) Natalie Beilstein 9.850 (t4) Reema Zakharia 9.850 (t4) Joanna Sampson 9.925 (1) All-Around Joanna Sampson 39.325 (1)
N O T E S
U-M improves to 16-0 all-time against Iowa State and 9-1 all-time against Illinois State.
It was Michigan's first visit to Iowa State since Jan. 29, 2010.
Senior Shelby Gies was just one quarter-of-a-tenth off her career-high score on uneven bars. Her career high was 9.900, set March 2, 2013, at Michigan State. She scored 9.875 on Friday. Natalie Beilstein was also one quarter-of-a-tenth off her career high on the same event. Her career high was 9.925, set March 16, 2013, vs. Iowa State. She scored 9.900 on Friday.
Junior Brooke Parker was a last-minute addition to the vault lineup. It was her first routine as a Michigan gymnast. She transferred from Alabama during the summer.
Sophomore Lindsay Williams made her first appearance in the U-M lineup since Jan. 26, 2013, at Minnesota. She had six official routines last season as a freshman.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Bev Plocki
On her team's performance on Friday ... "I'm really happy with everything. In terms of first meets, ideally you want to come out feeling excited about a lot of things but also knowing that there are places where you have to get better. That's exactly how I feel. I'm exceptionally happy with our newcomers and Brooke and how they performed. Everyone did a fabulous job. There's still a lot we can improve on, though. You don't want to come out of the gate feeling like you're as good as you can be."
On freshmen Nicole Artz and Talia Chiarelli ... "Talia has a lot of high-level competitive experience from her time in the elite program and whatnot. She showed that composure and experience tonight. I'm really excited for Nicole. We knew when we recruited her that she was an extremely talented gymnast who had a lot more in the tank than what she was showing. They're both going to be phenomenal collegiate athletes."
On Joanna Sampson ... "The thing about her bars routine, she was performing a brand new skill and combination. It only takes a slight error to make a big mistake. She caught her release so close to the bar, it was miraculous that she was able to continue flowing through without having a fall. She covered it up beyond what I thought anybody would be able do. Then she comes back and does very well on her other three events. That shows the kind of athlete and competitor she is."
On the rest of the seniors ... "They did a great job. Reema made a slight error on her beam routine, but stayed composed. She came back, repeated the series and completed the routine. The difference between seniors and underclassmen is that the seniors have the experience to be able to overcome a mistake and minimize mistakes when they happen. They have pull everything together and finish with the least amount of deductions."
On the last-minute changes to the lineup ... "I thought those particular gymnasts handled it well. That's the thing about having depth. When Annette had that shooting pain on uneven bars, we didn't have to try to get her to do the other events. It was a very easy decision to pull her. The hard part was that we had too many options to replace her. On beam, was it going to be Lindsay, Briley or someone else? On vault, was it going to Talia or Brooke? We wanted to get through touch warm-ups to make those choices. Mentally, we want them all to be ready to compete because if you do get the nod, you need to be ready. Tonight, they were."
U-M Senior Joanna Sampson
On the team's overall performance ... "I'm happy with how we did. We had some last-minute changes in three of our lineups, but it was good to see that we were able to handle it and stay confident no matter who we threw in. We knew that whoever went in was going to do a great job. Being that this is our first meet, I don't think we could have done much better."
On freshmen Nicole Artz and Talia Chiarelli ... "I'm really proud of how they did. They got on beam and did what they do in practice, which is what we've been teaching them to do. It was great. They should be very proud of how they did."
On her routines, including her slight error on uneven bars ... "It's a new skill for me. I'm still trying to figure out how to fix some of those errors in addition to doing it under pressure and with nerves. It wasn't exactly how I wanted it to be, but I got up and made my routine work the best I could."
U-M Freshman Nicole Artz
On balance beam and being the first person up ... "I love going first. I get more nervous watching other people go. Getting it out of the way and getting the team going, to me, is really fun. I like to go at the beginning."
On her floor exercise routine ... "It was so fun. I love floor. It is my favorite event. You practice it every day and then you get to a meet and it's so much more fun. You have an audience to perform to."
On if her first collegiate meet exceeded her expectations ... "Definitely. You go into it like it's a practice or intrasquad. It's so nice to have a team behind you. I've never had this big a team before that's always there for you. It was a lot of fun."
On fellow freshman Talia Chiarelli ... "I love my freshie! Every day in practice, she hits her beam routines like it's no problem. We never have a doubt. And tonight, she was able to show off on floor, which was fun to watch. You feel like you're a part of it. I feel like I'm doing everything with her."
Contact: Brad Rudner (firstname.lastname@example.org)