Team Effort Backs Wolverines to Dominance of No. 23 Ohio State
Shelby Gies

Jan. 25, 2014

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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Crisler Center)
Score: #5 Michigan 197.325, #23 Ohio State 195.200
Records: U-M (6-0, 1-0 Big Ten), Ohio State (1-3, 0-1 Big Ten)
Attendance: 2,764
Next U-M Event: Friday, Jan. 31 -- vs. Michigan State - Autism Awareness Meet (Crisler Center), 7 p.m. [ Tickets ]

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Fueled by its highest balance beam score in 17 meets, the No. 5-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team pummeled rival Ohio State, 197.325-195.200, in front of 2,764 fans in the team's home opener on Saturday (Jan. 25) inside Crisler Center.

Senior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) won the all-around for the third consecutive week -- also her seventh in a row in qualifying regular-season meets, dating back to last season -- while also taking first on floor exercise (9.950) and tying for first one uneven bars (9.875). Meanwhile, senior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) tied for first on balance beam (9.900), finishing second on floor exercise (9.925) and taking fourth on vault (9.850).

A. Sheppard
Austin Sheppard

The Wolverines started the meet off with a 49.300 on vault, with all five counted scores at or above 9.800. Senior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) stuck her vault in the second position, while junior Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) had a huge Yurchenko 1.5 and took a small step on the landing but still scored 9.875, second best on the team. Sampson scored the same with only a slight hop on her vault, while sophomore Austin Sheppard (Murphy, Texas/Plano East) cleaned up with a 9.900.

The scoring and routines were consistent throughout the uneven bars, as Sugiyama, senior Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) and Sheppard all received 9.825s, while freshman Nicole Artz (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa), Sampson and fifth-year senior Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch) each got 9.875s. Artz and Sugiyama each stuck their landings to propel the team at the start, while Beilstein closed the rotation with a Geinger for her release. At the halfway point, Michigan led Ohio State, 98.575-98.025.

Though it was U-M's lowest-scoring event of the evening, balance beam was the highlight. After Artz kicked off the rotation with a 9.800 in her traditional leadoff spot, she was followed by another freshman -- Talia Chiarelli (Boston, Mass./Lexington), who navigated her routine to score a 9.875, finished off by a beautiful double tuck dismount. Senior co-captains Gies and Zakharia were both up next, each scoring 9.900s. Zakharia, in particular, was jubilant about her performance, successfully hitting her front toss, back tuck connection after failing to stay on the beam during the same series last week at N.C. State. Sampson scored a 9.775, getting deducted for a balance check during her flight series in the fifth spot, giving Michigan a rotation score of 49.250. Coupled with a 48.775 floor exercise rotation for Ohio State, the Wolverines held a commanding lead heading into the final rotation.

Michigan added to its lead during the final rotation on floor exercise, as all five counted scores were at or above 9.850. Chiarelli began the rotation with a hit, scoring 9.800, followed by Sugiyama (9.875) and Beilstein (9.850). The last three gymnasts -- Artz, Zakharia and Sampson -- all had at least a 9.900. Sampson closed down the meet in traditional superb fashion, nailing all three of her tumbling passes. The Wolverines scored 49.500, a score they reached three times last season.

The Wolverines will look to make it two-for-two against rivals in their home arena on Friday (Jan. 31), as they welcome Michigan State to Crisler Center. The meet will begin at 7 p.m. and will serve as the team's first annual Autism Awareness Meet. [ Tickets ]

Team StandingsVaultBarsBeamFloorTotal
Ohio State48.95049.07548.40048.775195.200

Event Winners/U-M Finishers

Talia Chiarelli                    9.775
Reema Zakharia                     9.850 (4)
Sachi Sugiyama                     9.875 (t2)
Natalie Beilstein                  9.800
Joanna Sampson                     9.875 (t2)
Austin Sheppard                    9.900 (1)
Uneven Bars
Sachi Sugiyama                     9.825
Nicole Artz                        9.875 (t1)
Shelby Gies                        9.825
Austin Sheppard                    9.825
Joanna Sampson                     9.875 (t1)
Natalie Beilstein                  9.875 (t1)
Balance Beam
Nicole Artz                        9.800
Talia Chiarelli                    9.875 (3)
Shelby Gies                        9.900 (t1)
Reema Zakharia                     9.900 (t1)
Joanna Sampson                     9.775
Lindsay Williams                   9.275
Floor Exercise
Talia Chiarelli                    9.800
Sachi Sugiyama                     9.875 (4)
Natalie Beilstein                  9.850 (5)
Nicole Artz                        9.900 (3)
Reema Zakharia                     9.925 (2)
Joanna Sampson                     9.950 (1)
Joanna Sampson                     39.475 (1)

Contact: Brad Rudner (

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