Wolverines Extend Streak to Three with Win over No. 14 Illinois
Brittnee Martinez

Jan. 27, 2012

Complete Results | Photo Gallery  | Reema Zakharia Postmeet (Facebook)

Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Crisler Center)
Score: #19 Michigan 194.225, #14 Illinois 193.700
Records: U-M (3-0, 3-0 Big Ten), ILL (1-1-1, 1-1-1 Big Ten)
Attendance: 1,520
Next U-M Event: Friday, Feb. 3 -- vs. West Virginia (Crisler Center), 6 p.m.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 19-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team capped a perfect January (3-0) on Friday night (Jan. 27), rallying on floor to defeat No. 14 Illinois, 194.225-193.700, inside Crisler Center.

Trailing heading into the fourth rotation, four Michigan gymnasts scored a 9.800 or higher on floor, including a 9.900 from sophomore Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High), who tied for the event title. Freshman Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) tied for third (9.875) and junior Katie Zurales (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South) tied for fifth (9.850), while sophomore Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) scored a 9.800 to round out the quartet. Despite having to count a fall, Michigan finished with a 48.375 score but got the winning edge it needed after Illinois was forced to count two falls on beam.

A common theme through the first two meets of the season has been hot starts, and the Wolverines had another one on Friday on vault. Sugiyama and Zurales tied for the event title with consecutive 9.850 scores, while Sampson tied with two Illinois gymnasts for third with a 9.825. Each Michigan gymnast on the first rotation achieved a score of 9.750 or higher, totaling a team score of 49.050.

Michigan added to its lead during the second rotation on bars, led by five 9.800-and-higher scores. Sophomore Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) and freshman Annette Miele (Easton, Pa./Easton Area) set the tone by being the first two up, and each scored a 9.850 to tie for second. Sugiyama was fourth with a 9.825, while Sampson and junior Brittnee Martinez (Colorado Springs, Colo./Doherty) tied for fifth (9.800).

Illinois rallied during the third rotation as Michigan hit a bit of a rough patch on the balance beam. The Wolverines were forced to count two falls in their team score but saw a trio of solid performances from Martinez, Sampson and Gies. Martinez led the team on beam with a 9.825 to tie for first on the apparatus, while Sampson was behind her with a 9.800. Gies led off, scoring a 9.725. Meanwhile, Illinois scored a 49.100 on floor exercise to take the lead, 146.650-145.850, heading into the fourth and final rotation.

Illinois claimed the top two spots in the all-around, but Sampson led the three Michigan all-arounders with a 39.225 and third-place finish. Sugiyama, one week after winning the all-around at Minnesota, was fourth (38.700), while Zurales was fifth (38.400).

The Wolverines look to continue their winning ways next Friday (Feb. 3), when they welcome West Virginia to Crisler Center. The meet will start at 6 p.m.

Team StandingsVaultBarsBeamFloorTotal

Event-by-Event U-M Individual Scores

Brittnee Martinez              9.750
Stephanie Colbert              9.775
Katie Zurales                  9.850 (t1)
Sachi Sugiyama                 9.850 (t1)
Joanna Sampson                 9.825 (3)
Uneven Bars
Shelby Gies                    9.850 (t2)
Annette Miele                  9.850 (t2)
Sachi Sugiyama                 9.825 (4)
Katie Zurales                  9.750
Joanna Sampson                 9.800 (t5)
Brittnee Martinez              9.800 (t5)
Balance Beam
Shelby Gies                    9.725 (5)
Reema Zakharia                 9.175
Sachi Sugiyama                 9.150
Brittnee Martinez              9.825 (t1)
Joanna Sampson                 9.800 (4)
Katie Zurales                  8.950
Floor Exercise 
Sachi Sugiyama                 9.875 (t3)
Katie Zurales                  9.850 (t5)
Stephanie Colbert              8.950
Joanna Sampson                 9.800
Reema Zakharia                 9.900 (t1)
Kristin Nagle                  8.200
Joanna Sampson                 39.225 (3)
Sachi Sugiyama                 38.700 (4)
Katie Zurales                  38.400 (5)


• Michigan is 43-9-1 all-time against Illinois, winning each of the last 34 meetings dating back to Jan. 27, 1991.

• The Wolverines ended the month of January without being handed a loss for the first time since 2008. That year, Michigan beat West Virginia and Arkansas (Jan. 11), Penn State (Jan. 19), and Michigan State (Jan. 26).

Joanna Sampson's all-around score of 39.225 is a career high.

Reema Zakharia tied a career high on floor (9.900). She also scored a 9.900 at the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional last April.

Kristin Nagle made her collegiate debut on floor exercise but did not finish her routine due to injury. She scored an 8.200.

Annette Miele competed for the first time in her collegiate career on uneven bars against Illinois, tying for the team lead with a 9.850.

• The Wolverines also rallied for the win in their only other home meet. Two weeks ago on Jan. 13, Michigan trailed Ohio State heading into floor but scored 49.225 to win the meet.


Michigan Head Coach Bev Plocki
On rallying for another meet win ... "I told the kids after beam that I hate to be going into the last event needing to rally to win a competition, but we've done it well up to this point, so let's keep it going, and they did. I'm proud of them, but obviously the other opponents have opened the door and give us the opportunity to open the door. We can't count on that happening down the road. We have to fix our mistakes, and get mentally tougher if we want to have success this season, which we absolutely still can. That's the area we need to fix. It's mental."

On Annette Miele ... "I thought Annette Miele did a fabulous job on uneven bars stepping in for Natalie. She's going to be our go-to person on floor as soon as we can get her ready. She did well on bars but needs to continue to step up to help her team. She may be in the beam lineup next week, but we'll have to see how practice this week goes."

On what the lineup may look like going forward ... "Our key ingredients right now are getting Annette ready to go on bars, beam and floor, and getting Reema (Zakharia) back into the vault lineup. We can't rush those things because we want to make sure they are prepared, and safe, and ready to go before we insert them into the lineup. We're being patient right now, and allowing the next couple of weeks to pass, because we need to those weeks of preparation and training before we can get them in. We want to set them up for success, not failure."

Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423

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