Feb. 21, 2014
Site: Oklahoma City, Okla. (Cox Convention Center)
Event: Perfect 10 Challenge
U-M Team Standing: 3rd of 4 Teams (196.200)
Records: U-M (10-2), Oklahoma (9-2), Alabama (7-3), West Virginia (5-7)
Next U-M Event: Friday, Feb. 28 -- vs. Kent State, vs. BYU (Crisler Center), 7 p.m.
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- Senior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) finished third in the all-around (39.325) and won uneven bars (9.900), while fifth-year senior Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch) tied for second on both vault (9.950) and uneven bars (9.875), as the No. 7-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team took third (196.200) at the Perfect 10 Challenge on Friday (Feb. 21) inside the Cox Convention Center. No. 1 Oklahoma won the meet (197.200), followed by No. 5 Alabama (197.100), while West Virginia took fourth (193.525).
For the first time this season, Michigan started the meet on balance beam. The Wolverines navigated around a fall in the middle of the rotation and stayed on the beam the rest of the way, but scored only 48.350, likely due to balance checks on several of the gymnasts' flight series and small steps on the landings. Freshman Nicole Artz (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa) and sophomore Briley Casanova (Dallas, Texas/Spring Creek Academy) bookended the rotation with 9.725 scores to lead the way.
The Wolverines rebounded on floor with a steady stream of solid routines, led by Sampson's 9.875 in the anchor spot. All five counted scores in the rotation went for at least 9.800 thanks to some clean tumbling passes and the traditionally strong choreography. Junior Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) led off the routine with one of those 9.800s, as did Beilstein. The last two routines came from Artz and senior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High), as each scored 9.825s. The Wolverines were third at the halfway point (97.475), trailing Oklahoma (98.575) and Alabama (98.300), but ahead of West Virginia (97.350).
Michigan's best event on this night was vault, scoring 49.425 as a team, its best rotation of the season. Beilstein had one of the sharpest performances of any gymnast on any team during the meet, sticking her Yurchenko 1.5 cold and tying her career high in the process (9.950). Sampson followed her in the order with a 9.925, while Sugiyama, sophomore Austin Sheppard (Murphy, Texas/Plano East) and freshman Talia Chiarelli (Boston, Mass./Lexington) all recorded 9.850s.
After emphasizing hit handstands and landings all week in practice, Michigan closed down the meet on uneven bars and scored 49.300, its second-highest score of the season on that event. All six competitors in the lineup scored above 9.800, including a 9.900 from Sampson to win the event and a 9.875 from Beilstein to tie for second. Sheppard and Artz both scored 9.850, while Sugiyama was the final counted score at 9.825.
With the three-week road trip concluded, Michigan returns to Crisler Center next Friday (Feb. 28) for the first time in nearly a month, facing Kent State and BYU in a tri-meet. The meet will begin at 7 p.m.
Event Winners/U-M Finishers
Vault Brooke Parker 9.775 Talia Chiarelli 9.850 Sachi Sugiyama 9.850 Natalie Beilstein 9.950 (t2) Joanna Sampson 9.925 (t4) Austin Sheppard 9.850 Uneven Bars Sachi Sugiyama 9.825 Nicole Artz 9.850 (t5) Shelby Gies 9.800 Austin Sheppard 9.850 (t5) Joanna Sampson 9.900 (1) Natalie Beilstein 9.875 (t2) Balance Beam Nicole Artz 9.725 Talia Chiarelli 9.650 Shelby Gies 9.250 Reema Zakharia 9.625 Joanna Sampson 9.625 Briley Casanova 9.725 Floor Exercise Sachi Sugiyama 9.800 Talia Chiarelli 9.775 Natalie Beilstein 9.800 Nicole Artz 9.825 Reema Zakharia 9.825 Joanna Sampson 9.875 (4) All-Around Joanna Sampson 39.325 (3)
Contact: Brad Rudner (firstname.lastname@example.org)