Feb. 17, 2012
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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Crisler Center)
Result: #1 Utah 196.050, #21 Michigan 194.850
Records: U-M (6-2), Utah (5-1)
Next U-M Event: Friday, Feb. 24 -- at Oklahoma (Norman, Okla.), 7 p.m. CST
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Three event winners -- and an all-around win from sophomore Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) -- were not enough, as the No. 21-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (194.850) lost a tight contest to top-ranked Utah (196.050) on Friday night (Feb. 17) inside Crisler Center. Sampson scored a 39.250 for her second career all-around win, tying a career high with 9.925 on floor exercise.
As it has all season, Michigan began the meet with a fantastic start, scoring a 49.100 on vault. Freshman Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) led the way with a 9.900, tying two Utah gymnasts for first place on the apparatus. Junior Katie Zurales (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South) finished fourth with a 9.875, while Sampson tied for fifth with a 9.825.
The Wolverines moved to bars during the next rotation and scored a 48.725, led by a quintet of scores that were 9.700 or higher. A trio of Wolverines -- Sampson, Zurales and junior Brittnee Martinez (Colorado Springs, Colo./Doherty) -- scored 9.775, while Sugiyama and freshman Annette Miele (Easton, Pa./Easton Area) came up with identical 9.700 scores. The Utes held a slight lead over Michigan after the third rotation (98.050-97.825).
Michigan hit its first four routines on the balance beam but was forced to count a fall after the last two competitors each recorded a 9.200. Zurales tied for the event title with a 9.850 score. Junior Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central), who competed in three events for the first time in her collegiate career, tallied a 9.800.
The Wolverines moved to floor to close the meet, and Sampson was the star, dazzling the crowd with a season-best 9.925. Miele also stepped up with a season best of her own, scoring a 9.800 and improving on her floor score in each of the last three meets. Gies competed on floor for the first time in her collegiate career, scoring a 9.700.
Zurales and Sugiyama were the team's other all-arounders in addition to Sampson. Zurales finished third (39.125), while Sugiyama came in fifth (38.475).
The Wolverines face another top-five opponent next Friday (Feb. 24), as they square off against Oklahoma at 7 p.m. CST in Norman, Okla. The Sooners are ranked third this week.
Event-by-Event U-M Individual Scores
Brittnee Martinez 9.725
Stephanie Colbert 9.775
Reema Zakharia 8.975
Katie Zurales 9.875 (4)
Joanna Sampson 9.825 (5)
Sachi Sugiyama 9.900 (t1)
Shelby Gies 9.675
Annette Miele 9.700
Sachi Sugiyama 9.700
Katie Zurales 9.775 (t3)
Joanna Sampson 9.775 (t3)
Brittnee Martinez 9.775 (t3)
Shelby Gies 9.800 (t5)
Brittnee Martinez 9.675
Joanna Sampson 9.725
Katie Zurales 9.850 (t1)
Sachi Sugiyama 9.200
Reema Zakharia 9.200
Sachi Sugiyama 9.675
Annette Miele 9.800 (t5)
Katie Zurales 9.625
Joanna Sampson 9.925 (1)
Stephanie Colbert 9.675
Shelby Gies 9.700
Joanna Sampson 39.250 (1)
Katie Zurales 39.125 (3)
Sachi Sugiyama 38.475 (5)
N O T E S
Michigan falls to 11-24 all-time against Utah. The Wolverines are 3-7 in their last 10 regular-season meetings against the Utes.
Friday's meet marked the eighth time since 2001 (and fourth in the last five years) that Michigan has faced the nation's top-ranked team during the regular season.
Michigan has scored above a 49.000 on vault in every meet this season.
This marked the first meet in the last three in which Michigan had not improved on its team score from the week before. The Wolverines scored a season-high 195.825 last week at the Masters Classic.
Shelby Gies had not competed on floor in her collegiate career prior to Friday's meet with Utah. She was initially slated to exhibition, but Reema Zakharia was pulled from the lineup in warm-ups.
Joanna Sampson's previous all-around win came against West Virginia on Feb. 3. She scored a 39.300 in that meet.
Michigan finishes 3-1 at the Crisler Center this season. The Wolverines' remaining two home meets will take place outside of the venue. The team's meet against Georgia on March 9 will be held at the EMU Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich., and the March 16 meet vs. Michigan State will be held inside Cliff Keen Arena.
The announced attendance was 2,536, the highest of the four meets at Crisler Center this season.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Bev Plocki
On the meet against Utah ... "This was a difficult meet for a number of reasons. I really anticipated that we were going to come out here and have a great night. The judging tonight was fair, but it was incredibly strict and a lot of times when that happens, it takes the wind out of your sails. When you feel like you are doing really good routines and then you get a 9.65, it really hard to keep yourself pumped up. There is always a lot to learn from every meet, and we will learn a lot from this like we have from all the other meets. We need to start putting full meets together and we can't afford to let opportunities like this to keep passing us by."
On the judging tonight ... "A lot of deductions are very subjective. You could take a half of a tenth, a full tenth, or a tenth and a half off, and it is up to each individual judge to make that decision. Some judges will try to give the benefit of the doubt to the student-athlete, and other judges are very strict."
On slip-ups that occurred during beam routines ... "That is one thing that is very frustrating to me because we have worked endlessly on beam. We have improved significantly in practices and in training. The only thing I can say is that this is a very young team and I wish there was a way we could inject a little more experience into these kids, but unfortunately these are the growing pains that we are going through right now. We are working hard in practice to try to do everything possible to get our athletes the confidence that they need to compete aggressively. They are performing great in practice and I'm just waiting for it to come up in competitions."
On what can be said about the meet ... "We did not put this meet together the way I anticipated we would, based on how things have progressed. For some reason, we tend to perform better away than we do at home, and I don't really understand why. The good news for us in the RQS score is that you are only allowed to count three home meet scores, but you can count as many away meets as you want. So, if it were the reverse, and we were only getting good scores at home, we would only be allowed to count three of those scores. If you want to look at the bright side, having better away scores could benefit us down the road."
U-M Sophomore Joanna Sampson
On her continued success during meets ... "I just go out being very confident. I know what I need to do in the gym, and I just try to do what I know how to do."
On going up against Utah, the number one team in the nation ... "We are well aware of the potential that we have but we just haven't been able to completely reach that potential yet. I think that even tonight, we did a good job focusing on ourselves and taking things one event at a time."
On her great floor performance ... "I think it brought a lot of energy to the team. It was actually a new routine for me, so that was really exciting. I think it helped the last two people that went after me, and it let them know that there was nothing to worry about."
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423