March 2, 2013
Site: East Lansing, Mich. (Jenison Field House)
Result: #3 Michigan 197.300, Michigan State 194.875
Records: U-M (13-1, 6-1 Big Ten), MSU (1-8, 0-7 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Sunday, March 10 -- at UCLA, vs. California, vs. Iowa State (Los Angeles, Calif.), 2 p.m. PT
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Behind the sixth-highest all-around score in program history from junior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland), the No. 3-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team clinched a share of the 2013 Big Ten regular-season championship in beating in-state rival Michigan State, 197.300-194.875, on Saturday (March 2) inside Jenison Field House. It is also career win No. 600 for head coach Bev Plocki, who becomes the third active NCAA D-I women's gymnastics coach to reach that plateau.
With every Big Ten team facing each other this season, the conference implemented a regular-season championship for the first time. By virtue of finishing 6-1 in conference dual meets, the Wolverines have assured themselves at least a share of the championship. Minnesota and Nebraska are each 4-1 and have two meets left, so should one or both teams get to 6-1, there would be a share, as the conference does not break ties for regular-season crowns. The winner of the Big Ten Championships meet on March 23 in East Lansing will still be called Big Ten champions.
Sampson was one of two stars of the meet, winning three events (vault, uneven bars -- tie, floor exercise) to score a 39.650. She scored 9.950 on both vault and floor exercise, 9.900 on uneven bars and 9.850 on balance beam (finishing third). Junior Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) set new career highs on balance beam (9.925) and uneven bars (9.900 -- tie with Sampson), while senior Katie Zurales (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South) was the team's other all-arounder, taking second (38.750).
The Wolverines began the meet on uneven bars. Following Sampson and Gies, three others received identical 9.850 scores -- including Zurales, senior Brittnee Martinez (Colorado Springs, Colo./Doherty) and sophomore Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller). Gies initially had a 9.850, but it was upgraded to a 9.900, becoming her new career high.
Moving to vault during the second rotation, Michigan scored the same as it did in the first (49.350). Following Sampson was freshman Austin Sheppard (Dallas, Texas/Plano East), who finished third with a score of 9.900. Three others made the podium, including Zurales in fourth (9.850) and Sugiyama and senior Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch), who both tied for fifth (9.850). Halfway through the meet, Michigan led, 98.700-96.850.
The Wolverines increased their lead through the third rotation, floor exercise. They came into the meet averaging 49.365 for the season (second in the nation) and surpassed that Saturday, earning 49.425. Sampson and Zurales (9.900) led the way, but depth once again provided important, as the remaining four gymnasts all scored strongly. Junior Stephanie Colbert (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) and freshman Briley Casanova (Dallas, Texas/Spring Creek Academy) each scored 9.875, while Sugiyama and junior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) scored 9.825.
Michigan closed out the meet receiving a 49.175 on beam. Following Sampson (first) and Gies (third) was sophomore Annette Miele (Easton, Pa./Easton Area), who finished fifth with a 9.825). The other counted scores came from Martinez (9.800) and Casanova (9.775).
U-M wraps up its road trip next Sunday (March 10) when it faces UCLA, California and Iowa State in a quad meet. The competition will begin at 2 p.m. PST in Los Angeles, Calif.
Event Winners/U-M Finishers
Vault Stephanie Colbert 9.600 Katie Zurales 9.850 (4) Natalie Beilstein 9.825 (t5) Joanna Sampson 9.950 (1) Sachi Sugiyama 9.825 (t5) Austin Sheppard 9.900 (3) Uneven Bars Annette Miele 9.775 Shelby Gies 9.900 (t1) Sachi Sugiyama 9.850 (t3) Katie Zurales 9.850 (t3) Brittnee Martinez 9.850 (t3) Joanna Sampson 9.900 (t1) Balance Beam Shelby Gies 9.925 (1) Brittnee Martinez 9.800 Annette Miele 9.825 (5) Briley Casanova 9.775 Joanna Sampson 9.850 (3) Katie Zurales 9.150 Floor Exercise Sachi Sugiyama 9.825 Stephanie Colbert 9.875 (t3) Katie Zurales 9.900 (2) Reema Zakharia 9.825 Briley Casanova 9.875 (t3) Joanna Sampson 9.950 (1) All-Around Joanna Sampson 39.650 (1) Katie Zurales 38.750 (2)
N O T E S
Bev Plocki is the third active NCAA D-I head women's gymnastics coach to reach the 600-win barrier, joining Greg Marsden (Utah) and D.D. Breaux (LSU). Some schools do not count postseason wins towards its totals. Plocki has accounted for 83 percent of the program's total victories (600 of 815).
It is Michigan's third score of 197.000 or higher this season (first on the road). The last time it had three scores of 197.000 or better in the same season was 2004. Saturday's score against Michigan State is the program's highest regular-season road score since 2003 (197.025 at Denver).
Joanna Sampson's previous career high in the all-around was 39.600, set on two occasions this season (Feb. 2 vs. Iowa, Feb. 16 vs. Penn State). Her score of 39.650 on Saturday is tied for the sixth-highest score in program history. Sarah Cain scored 39.650 three times (2000 at Bruin Classic, 1998 vs. Michigan State, 1997 at Big Ten Championships), while Elise Ray scored it twice (2002 vs. Utah, 2002 at Shanico Inn-vitational). The last gymnast to record three all-around scores of 39.600 or better in the same season was Elise Ray in 2004 (39.800 at Big Ten Championships, 39.750 at West Virginia/Maryland, 39.700 at NCAA Regional Championships).
Joanna Sampson now has five first-place finishes in the all-around this season (in eight meets as an all-arounder). She has 15 scores of at least 39.000s for her career, 13th most in program history.
Michigan improves to 61-38 all-time against Michigan State. The Wolverines have won 16 straight meetings. In addition, Bev Plocki is 60-8 all-time against the Spartans.
The Wolverines' only Big Ten dual-meet loss came to Minnesota on Jan. 26 (196.800-196.775).
With this score factored in, Michigan's RQS improves from 196.975 to 197.080. U-M ca now drop its score of 196.775 from Minnesota on Jan. 26.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Bev Plocki
On the meet ... "We had a very good meet. It was our best road score of the season. Our lineups still are not 100 percent full strength. We made a few mistakes tonight that need to be cleaned up, but we'll do that. There's still room to improve."
On Shelby Gies ... "I was so excited for her. She has been doing such good-quality beam routines all season long and for whatever reason, the judges have not wanted to give her that big score she deserved. She stuck her dismount cold tonight. In the past, she's had a tiny hop, but she stuck it tonight. When the scores came up, her goal was to hit a 9.900. She got a 9.925, and that made everyone's night."
On Joanna Sampson ... "She's rock-solid consistent and had a great meet tonight. I think she had her best vault of the season tonight. Her floor exercise routine has just been so spectacular since we added the double layout to it. She had a tiny wobble on beam, which she was frustrated with, but I think she ought to be very happy with her overall performance."
On what the team needs to do in the three weeks leading up to Big Tens ... "The fact that we've been taking people in and out of lineups over the last month to rest, next week is when we plan on getting back to having a full-strength lineup. Like I said, we counted some small mistakes today that the girls know they can clean up. This meet gives us a great deal of confidence going into a competition like the one we'll have next week at UCLA. They have a great team, and they compete well at home. We know that'll be a challenge for us, but we're going to go in and take that challenge head on."
On win No. 600 ... "I don't feel like that is my award. The gymnasts do all the work. That accolade goes to every Michigan athlete to ever wear a Maize and Blue leotard. They are ones who deserve it."
U-M Junior Joanna Sampson
On the team's performance ... "I was really happy with how we did. We started on bars, something we've done a few times this year, and I thought we got off to a great start. I definitely think it was good to see how we responded after starting there last week. We started strong to see how we could do and followed that through the rest of the meet."
On her all-around score ... "Yeah, it's pretty exciting. I'm happy about it. I'm glad I could get some things together for the team. Even more than that, I'm excited to see how we're going to progress over the last two weeks heading into Big Tens. We're working really hard as a team."
On how the team got used to the equipment at Michigan State, knowing Big Tens will be there in three weeks ... "It's definitely a good idea to get a feel for the equipment, the arena and the atmosphere. It'll be different in a few weeks. There'll be more teams, more fans, but overall, I think we're comfortable. We're excited to go there. It's nice that it's close to home, too, because that means some of our fans will be there, as well."
U-M Junior Shelby Gies
On the team's performance ... "It was amazing. We used our energy right from the beginning on uneven bars, sort of redemption from our performance last week. We knew we had to come out strong and just kept it going all throughout the meet."
On her uneven bars and balance beam routines ... "It feels great. I was trying to hit those two routines since the beginning of the season. To score well is great, but I'm going to keep working hard."
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423