Feb. 14, 2014
Site: Lincoln, Neb. (Devaney Center)
Score: #8 Michigan 196.650, #7 Nebraska 196.125
Records: U-M (9-0, 4-0 Big Ten), Nebraska (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Friday, Feb. 21 -- vs. Oklahoma, Alabama, West Virginia (Oklahoma City, Okla.), 7 p.m. CST
LINCOLN, Neb. -- Behind an energetic and lively floor exercise rotation, the No. 8-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team went into Lincoln and secured a huge road win over a top-10 team, toppling No. 7 Nebraska, 196.650-196.125, on Friday (Feb. 14) inside the Devaney Center. The Wolverines handed Nebraska its first loss of the season while jumping atop the Big Ten regular-season standings at 4-0.
Senior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) and Nebraska senior Emily Wong were neck and neck for the all-around title all evening, but Wong prevailed in the end by one quarter-of-a-tenth, putting Sampson in second with a score of 39.450. Sampson won vault (9.925) and tied for first on balance beam with freshman Nicole Artz (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa) at 9.825. Artz also competed as an all-arounder for the first time in her career, scoring 39.150 to take fourth.
The Wolverines looked sharper on uneven bars than the previous week, posting 49.025 to start. The team's high scorer on the apparatus was senior Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) at 9.850, hitting clean handstands and her double tuck dismount. Sampson got nice height on the Tkatchev but took a tiny hop on the landing, finishing with a 9.800. Sophomore Austin Sheppard (Murphy, Texas/Plano East) was very fired up after her routine, swapping out a piked Tkatchev -- which she had performed in the first five meets -- to a normal Tkatchev and sticking her double front dismount for a 9.825.
Michigan had a pretty steady string of Yurchenko Fulls and Yurchenko 1.5s during the vault rotation, scoring 49.275 as a team. Sampson led the way with a 9.925, thanks to some serious distance on her Full. Sheppard tied for third with a 9.875, hitting the horse with her trademark power. Fifth-year senior Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch) and junior Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) performed nearly identical 1.5s, as each gymnast got great distance on their attempts, and at the halfway point, Nebraska led, 98.475-98.300.
The Wolverines had perhaps their strongest floor exercise rotation of the season so far, scoring 49.375, thanks to some terrific tumbling from all six competitors in the lineup. The five counted scores started with freshman Talia Chiarelli (Boston, Mass./Lexington), who hit a double tuck on the start and a double pike on the back end to tie her career high through six meets at 9.850. Beilstein followed, hitting all three tumbling passes to score 9.875. Artz had her best routine of the night and one of the best of her early career, scoring 9.900 to tie her career high. Senior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) scored 9.850, while Sampson lit up the Devaney Center with a 9.900 routine to close. Coupled with some mistakes by Nebraska on balance beam, the Wolverines found themselves in the lead, 147.675-147.125, heading into the fourth and final rotation.
Armed with over a five-tenth cushion, Michigan needed to hit five routines on balance beam to secure the win and did just that. Artz led off in her typical spot and tied for the event title at 9.825, followed by her freshman counterpart in Chiarelli at 9.800 until the seniors took over to bring it home. Gies had a balance check midway through the routine but recovered to hit for a 9.750 score. Zakharia went up and came through despite a slight wobble on her back tuck, scoring 9.775. Sampson performed a brilliant routine to essentially seal the win, scoring 9.825.
Michigan's three-meet road trip concludes next Friday (Feb. 21), as it competes at the Perfect 10 Challenge in Oklahoma City, Okla., alongside Oklahoma (currently No. 2), Alabama (currently No. 5) and West Virginia. The meet will begin at 7 p.m. CST.
Event Winners/U-M Finishers
Vault Talia Chiarelli 9.775 Nicole Artz 9.675 Sachi Sugiyama 9.850 (t5) Natalie Beilstein 9.850 (t5) Joanna Sampson 9.925 (1) Austin Sheppard 9.875 (t3) Uneven Bars Sachi Sugiyama 9.775 Nicole Artz 9.750 Shelby Gies 9.850 (t4) Austin Sheppard 9.825 (t5) Joanna Sampson 9.800 Natalie Beilstein 9.775 Balance Beam Nicole Artz 9.825 (t1) Talia Chiarelli 9.800 (t3) Shelby Gies 9.750 Reema Zakharia 9.775 Joanna Sampson 9.825 (t1) Briley Casanova 9.750 Floor Exercise Sachi Sugiyama 9.775 Talia Chiarelli 9.850 (t5) Natalie Beilstein 9.875 (4) Nicole Artz 9.900 (t2) Reema Zakharia 9.850 (t5) Joanna Sampson 9.900 (t2) All-Around Joanna Sampson 39.450 (2) Nicole Artz 39.150 (4)
Contact: Brad Rudner (firstname.lastname@example.org)