Jan. 19, 2013
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Crisler Center)
Score: #2 Michigan 197.350, Illinois 195.100
Records: U-M (4-0, 2-0 Big Ten), Illinois (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, Jan. 26 -- at Minnesota, vs. Iowa State (Minneapolis, Minn.), 6 p.m. CST
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 2-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team swept all four events and the all-around to improve on its program-best start, taking down Illinois for the 36th consecutive time, 197.350-195.100, on Saturday (Jan. 19) inside Crisler Center. It was the Wolverines' highest score -- regular season or postseason -- since March 7, 2008, vs. Georgia (197.600).
Senior Katie Zurales (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South) won the all-around (39.575), while junior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) was right behind in second (39.550), both new career highs. Sampson won vault (9.925) and floor exercise (9.950), with Zurales taking the uneven bars crown (9.925) and sharing the balance beam title (9.875) with junior Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central).
The Wolverines were in front from the very beginning, putting up their highest vault score of the season to date (49.300) while occupying the top three places on the award stand. Sampson (9.925) and Zurales (9.900) led the charge, finishing first and second, respectively, but Michigan's depth was once again the key. A trio of gymnasts recorded identical 9.825 scores to tie for third, including junior Stephanie Colbert (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley), sophomore Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) and senior Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch), who made her season debut in the vault lineup.
Zurales set the tone for the Wolverines in the next rotation on uneven bars, scoring a 9.925 in the leadoff position to finish first. Michigan faced its only adversity of the night on uneven bars, as freshman Lindsay Williams (Northville, Mich./Northville) scored a 9.175 in the second spot. The Wolverines rallied, as the next four competitors up each scored 9.800 or better -- Sampson and senior Brittnee Martinez (Colorado Springs, Colo./Doherty) at 9.875 (tied for second), Gies at 9.850 (fourth) and Sugiyama at 9.800. After two rotations, Michigan led 98.625-97.550.
Michigan really turned it up on balance beam, increasing its lead over Illinois to more than two full points after the Fighting Illini managed to score only 48.300 over on floor exercise. All five scores were above 9.800, including Williams (9.825), who was also celebrating her birthday on Saturday. Sophomore Annette Miele (Easton, Pa./Easton Area) led off the rotation, finishing fourth with a 9.850. Martinez and Sampson each recorded 9.800s, but it was Zurales and Gies who tied for the event title, scoring 9.875 to pace the Wolverines' effort.
Needing at least 49.150 to crack 197.000, the Wolverines were able to get that and then some, closing the meet with an energetic rotation on floor exercise, scoring 49.500. Michigan did not give away many tenths during the six routines, as the final three scores were each 9.900 or better, including Sugiyama at 9.900 (fourth), junior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) at 9.925 (tied for second) and Sampson at 9.950 (first). The other two counted scores came from Zurales (9.875, fifth) and Beilstein (9.850), while Colbert contributed a 9.825.
Michigan heads back out on the road for its next competition, facing Minnesota and Iowa State in a tri-meet next Satuday (Jan. 26) in Minneapolis, Minn. The meet will begin at 6 p.m. CST.
Vault Stephanie Colbert 9.825 (3) Katie Zurales 9.900 (2) Briley Casanova 9.750 Joanna Sampson 9.925 (1) Sachi Sugiyama 9.825 (3) Natalie Beilstein 9.825 (3) Uneven Bars Katie Zurales 9.925 (1) Lindsay Williams 9.175 Shelby Gies 9.850 (4) Sachi Sugiyama 9.800 Brittnee Martinez 9.875 (t2) Joanna Sampson 9.875 (t2) Balance Beam Annette Miele 9.850 (4) Lindsay Williams 9.825 Shelby Gies 9.875 (t1) Brittnee Martinez 9.800 Joanna Sampson 9.800 Katie Zurales 9.875 (t1) Floor Exercise Natalie Beilstein 9.850 Stephanie Colbert 9.825 Katie Zurales 9.875 (5) Reema Zakharia 9.925 (t2) Sachi Sugiyama 9.900 (4) Joanna Sampson 9.950 (1) All-Around Katie Zurales 39.575 (1) Joanna Sampson 39.550 (2)
N O T E S
The Wolverines are off to their best start in program history. Through the first three meets, Michigan is averaging 196.941 and looks primed to remain toward the top of the rankings when the new set is released on Monday. Coming into Saturday, the highest scores of the weekend were from Florida (197.300) and Oklahoma (197.325).
Michigan improves to 47-9-1 all-time against Illinois, winning the match-up for the 36th consecutive time dating back to January 1991. It was the Wolverines' largest margin of victory over the Fighting Illini since 2007 (W, 195.825-192.525).
Michigan has improved on its score in each of the first three weeks. The Wolverines scored 196.575 at the Cancun Classic (Jan. 4) and 196.900 last Saturday (Jan. 12) against Nebraska.
The last time the Wolverines scored this high at home in back-to-back meets was 2008. They scored 197.125 on Feb. 22, 2008, vs. North Carolina State and 197.600 on March 7, 2008, vs. Georgia.
Katie Zurales' previous career high in the all-around was 39.450, set March 9, 2012, vs. Georgia. She also set a new career high on uneven bars (9.925) against Illinois. It was her fourth career all-around title.
Joanna Sampson's previous career high in the all-around was 39.425, set two weeks ago at the Cancun Classic (Jan. 4). She also set a new career high on floor exercise (9.950) against Illinois. She is the reigning Big Ten Women's Gymnast of the Week after winning the all-around last Saturday (Jan. 12) against Nebraska (39.400).
Reema Zakharia set a new career high on floor exercise (9.925) on Saturday. Her previous best was 9.900, set at the 2011 NCAA Ann Arbor Regional Championship.
Sachi Sugiyama tied her career high on floor exercise (9.900).
With the win over Illinois, Bev Plocki now stands at 591 career victories.
The meet was televised to a national audience on the Big Ten Network. The Wolverines will make two more appearances on the Network: March 16 vs. Iowa State and March 23 at the Big Ten Championships. Former U-M gymnast Kylee (Botterman) Kolarik (2008-11) was on the call Saturday, serving as an analyst.
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423