Feb. 28, 2014
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Crisler Center)
U-M Team Standing: 1st Place of 3 Teams (197.200)
Records: U-M (12-2), Kent State (8-3), BYU (3-10)
Next U-M Event: Friday, March 7 -- vs. UCLA/Utah (Crisler Center), 7 p.m. [ Tickets ]
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Competing at home for the first time in four weeks, the No. 8-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team hit 23 of 24 routines to cruise to a score of 197.200 in a tri-meet victory over BYU (195.325) and No. 23 Kent State (194.275) on Friday (Feb. 28) inside Crisler Center.
Four different U-M gymnasts won events -- sophomore Austin Sheppard (Murphy, Texas/Plano East) on vault (9.975), senior Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) on uneven bars (9.900), sophomore Briley Casanova (Dallas, Texas/Spring Creek Academy) on balance beam (9.850) and fifth-year senior Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch) on floor exercise (9.950). Senior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) did not compete in the all-around -- sitting out on uneven bars (rest) -- but did take second on both vault (9.925) and floor exercise (9.925). Freshman Nicole Artz (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa) was in the all-around for the second time in her career, taking second (39.200).
Due to being at home, U-M had the advantage of rotating in Olympic order. The Wolverines started on vault and scored 49.425 for the second week in a row. The scores began to escalate beginning with junior Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) in the third spot, as she scored a 9.850 on a solid Yurchenko 1.5. Beilstein followed with the same vault -- scoring 9.900 -- while Sampson hit her Yurchenko Full with only a miniscule hop on the landing to score 9.925. Sheppard very nearly stuck her Yurchenko Full in the anchor spot and even received a 10.0 from one judge, eventually settling for a 9.975.
With Sampson's big scoring potential out of the lineup on Friday, the Wolverines still managed to put up a very solid uneven bars rotation, scoring 49.225. Her replacement on Friday was sophomore Lindsay Williams (Northville, Mich./Northville), who hit a career-best routine in the leadoff spot (9.800). Everyone else moved down one spot in the order, including hit routines from Sugiyama (9.850) and Artz (9.825), before Gies' beautiful routine netted a 9.900, thanks to some great verticality on handstands and dismount. Sheppard was the fifth counted score in the rotation, grabbing a 9.850, finishing the routine with a solid double front dismount. At the halfway point, Michigan was in command (98.650), ahead of both Kent State (96.425) and BYU (97.625).
A pair of underclassmen led the way on balance beam, as Michigan scored an even 49.000. Casanova hit her flight series and had a tremendous dismount to score 9.850, while freshman Talia Chiarelli (Boston, Mass./Lexington) hit a 9.825 routine in the second spot. The remaining five routines all scored 9.775 (Gies, Sheppard, Sampson).
But the highlight of this night was floor exercise, as U-M scored 49.550, a season best. The lineup was shaken up this week, but it paid off, as four of the five routines scored at 9.900 or above, starting with junior Brooke Parker (Lorton, Va./South County Secondary), who received a 9.900 in the leadoff spot. The next three routines were big, led by Beilstein (9.950), Artz (9.900) and senior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) at 9.875, setting the stage for Sampson. In a routine that elicited some of the biggest reactions of the night, Sampson scored 9.925, receiving a 10.0 from one judge, but only a 9.850 from the second, as the Crisler Center crowd of nearly 2,000 fans let their voices be heard. Still, with a 49.500 in tow on floor exercise, U-M finished the meet strong with a final score of 197.200 and the tri-meet victory.
The Wolverines return to home action next Friday (March 7), hosting perennial NCAA Championships contenders UCLA and Utah for a tri-meet at Crisler Center. The meet will begin at 7 p.m. For tickets, call (866) 296-MTIX or go online at www.mgoblue.com/tickets.
Event Winners/U-M Finishers
Vault Talia Chiarelli 9.775 Nicole Artz 9.750 Sachi Sugiyama 9.850 (t4) Natalie Beilstein 9.900 (3) Joanna Sampson 9.925 (2) Austin Sheppard 9.975 (1) Uneven Bars Lindsay Williams 9.800 Sachi Sugiyama 9.850 (t2) Nicole Artz 9.825 (5)
Shelby Gies 9.900 (1) Austin Sheppard 9.850 (t2) Natalie Beilstein 9.750 Balance Beam Nicole Artz 9.725 Talia Chiarelli 9.825 (t2) Shelby Gies 9.775 Austin Sheppard 9.775 Joanna Sampson 9.775 Briley Casanova 9.850 (1) Floor Exercise Brooke Parker 9.900 (t3) Natalie Beilstein 9.950 (1) Nicole Artz 9.900 (t3) Reema Zakharia 9.875 (t5) Joanna Sampson 9.925 (2) Sachi Sugiyama 9.250 All-Around Nicole Artz 39.200 (2)
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