Pair of 9.975s, Event Sweep Vault Michigan Past Rival MSU
Joanna Sampson

Jan. 31, 2014

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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Crisler Center)
Event: Autism Awareness Meet
Score: #4 Michigan 196.800, Michigan State 193.900
Records: U-M (7-0, 2-0 Big Ten), MSU (0-4, 0-3 Big Ten)
Attendance: 2,897
Next U-M Event: Friday, Feb. 7 -- at Illinois (Champaign, Ill.), 7 p.m. CST

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- In front of nearly 3,000 fans in the program's first-ever Autism Awareness Meet, the No. 4-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team downed in-state rival Michigan State, 196.800-193.900, on Friday night (Jan. 31) inside Crisler Center. Senior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) set career highs on uneven bars (9.975) and balance beam (9.925) while tying a career best in the all-around (39.650).

The Wolverines started strong once again on vault, scoring 49.300. Sophomore Austin Sheppard (Murphy, Texas/Plano East) executed a dynamic Yurchenko full with a clean stick to score a career-high 9.975. Sampson tied for second, also sticking her Yurchenko full but was deducted slightly for coming in with a low chest on the landing. Junior Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) scored a 9.850 in the third spot, getting big distance on her Yurchenko 1.5 with a step on the landing. Freshman Talia Chiarelli (Boston, Mass./Lexington) and fifth-year senior Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch) were the other counted scores in the rotation at 9.825 and 9.775, respectively.

Austin Sheppard
Austin Sheppard

Michigan's best rotation of the night came on uneven bars, as all six gymnasts hit routines with scores of 9.800-or-better to score 49.475. Like Sheppard on vault, Sampson scored a 9.975 on the apparatus thanks to a big Tkatchev release and even bigger double layout dismount, which she stuck clean. She was followed up in the anchor spot by Beilstein, who hit her Geinger release and stuck the dismount to score a 9.925. Senior Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) and Sheppard each scored 9.875s, while the fifth counted score came from Sugiyama in the leadoff spot (9.825). At the halfway point, Michigan had a big lead over Michigan State, leading 98.775-96.825.

For the first time all season, Michigan ran into some adversity on balance team. After freshman Nicole Artz (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa) and Chiarelli started off the routine with matching 9.825s, a fall in the third spot by Gies put the pressure on the final three competitors. Senior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) got things back on track with a 9.775, taking a tiny step on the landing. Next up was Sampson, who executed a clean routine, complete with a gorgeous back handspring layout and a good dismount. The anchor this week was sophomore Briley Casanova (Dallas, Texas/Spring Creek Academy). She hit the punch front-beat jump connection, but had a balance check on the back handspring layout. The sophomore managed to stay on the beam, however, saving the rotation with a 9.775 and putting Michigan at 49.125 as a squad.

The Wolverines had some early miscues on floor exercise which led to a below-average score of 48.900 to close down the meet. The highest score over the first three routines was a 9.775 from Chiarelli, but the last three gymnasts up were able to recover nicely, as Artz and Sampson each scored 9.875s, while Zakharia received a 9.825.

Michigan will be on the road for the next three weekends, beginning next Friday (Feb. 7) with a dual meet against Illinois. The meet will begin at 7 p.m. inside Huff Hall in Champaign, Ill.

Team StandingsVaultBarsBeamFloorTotal
Michigan State48.15048.67548.70048.375193.900

Event Winners/U-M Finishers

Talia Chiarelli               9.825 (5)
Reema Zakharia                9.725
Sachi Sugiyama                9.850 (4)
Natalie Beilstein             9.775
Joanna Sampson                9.875 (t2)
Austin Sheppard               9.975 (1)
Uneven Bars
Sachi Sugiyama                9.825 (5)
Nicole Artz                   9.800
Shelby Gies                   9.875 (t3)
Austin Sheppard               9.875 (t3)
Joanna Sampson                9.975 (1)
Natalie Beilstein             9.925 (2)
Balance Beam
Nicole Artz                   9.825 (t3)
Talia Chiarelli               9.825 (t3)
Shelby Gies                   9.350
Reema Zakharia                9.775 (t5)
Joanna Sampson                9.925 (1)
Briley Casanova               9.775 (t5)
Floor Exercise
Austin Sheppard               9.550
Talia Chiarelli               9.775 (t5)
Sachi Sugiyama                9.200
Nicole Artz                   9.875 (t1)
Reema Zakharia                9.825 (3)
Joanna Sampson                9.875 (t1)
Joanna Sampson               39.650 (1)

Contact: Brad Rudner (

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