March 10, 2013
Site: Los Angeles, Calif. (Pauley Pavilion)
U-M Team Result: 1st of 4 Teams (197.550)
Records: U-M (16-1, 6-1 Big Ten), UCLA (9-4), California (7-8), Iowa State (4-10)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, March 16 -- vs. Iowa State (Crisler Center), 4 p.m. (TV: Big Ten Network)
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The No. 3-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team put up its highest score of the season (197.550), scoring big on the final three rotations to rally and defeat No. 6 UCLA, California and Iowa State on Sunday (March 10) inside Pauley Pavilion. Junior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) won the all-around (39.575) and tied for first on floor exercise (9.950), while sophomore Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) won uneven bars (9.950).
The Wolverines' team score of 197.550 is tied for eighth-highest in program history and is the highest on the road since the 2004 Big Ten Championships (197.800). In addition, it was the team's highest overall score since 2008, highest score of the season and tied for the fifth-highest regular season score in program history.
The Wolverines started the meet on arguably the most difficult apparatus, the balance beam. Despite some tight judging, Michigan managed to score 48.925 as a team, led by a trio of 9.800 scores from senior Brittnee Martinez (Colorado Springs, Colo./Doherty), sophomore Annette Miele (Easton, Pa./Easton Area) and freshman Briley Casanova (Dallas, Texas/Spring Creek Academy). Sampson scored 9.775 and junior Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) scored 9.750 to round out the scoring for the rotation.
Michigan gained some ground on UCLA after another strong floor exercise rotation. Sampson shined once again, scoring 9.950 in the anchor spot to tie for first, but it was high scores all the way around. A trio of gymnasts scored 9.900s, including senior Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch), junior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) and Sugiyama. The lowest score Michigan would drop during the rotation was a 9.850, which was achieved by both senior Katie Zurales (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South) and Casanova. UCLA still led at the halfway point, but Michigan remained in the hunt, 98.750-98.425.
The Wolverines scored a 49.550 on third rotation on vault, their highest mark since February 2008. Three gymnasts -- Sugiyama, Zakharia and Zurales -- each scored 9.900 (a new career best for Zakharia), while Sampson and Beilstein scored 9.925. The sixth competitor up was freshman Austin Sheppard (Dallas, Texas/Plano East), who scored a 9.875. Michigan retook the lead during the rotation and entered the final rotation with a narrow lead, 147.975-147.775.
Michigan put another number in the record books on uneven bars and closed out the meet strong, scoring 49.575 as a team. A miscue by Miele in the first spot put the pressure on, but the other five weren't phased, all scoring 9.850 or higher. Gies was in the second spot and scored 9.850, followed by Sugiyama at 9.950 and three others -- Zurales, Martinez and Sampson -- with a score of 9.925. UCLA only scored 49.300 on floor exercise, assuring Michigan of the victory.
Michigan wraps up the regular season next Saturday (March 16), facing Iowa State on Senior Night at 4 p.m. inside Crisler Center. The meet will be shown live to a nationally-televised audience on the Big Ten Network.
Event Winners/U-M Finishers
Vault Katie Zurales 9.900 (t5) Natalie Beilstein 9.925 (t3) Reema Zakharia 9.900 (t5) Joanna Sampson 9.925 (t3) Sachi Sugiyama 9.900 (t5) Austin Sheppard 9.875 Uneven Bars Annette Miele 9.300 Shelby Gies 9.850 Sachi Sugiyama 9.950 (1) Katie Zurales 9.925 (t2) Brittnee Martinez 9.925 (t2) Joanna Sampson 9.925 (t2) Balance Beam Shelby Gies 9.750 Brittnee Martinez 9.800 Annette Miele 9.800 Briley Casanova 9.800 Joanna Sampson 9.775 Katie Zurales 9.025 Floor Exercise Natalie Beilstein 9.900 (t3) Briley Casanova 9.850 Katie Zurales 9.850 Reema Zakharia 9.900 (t3) Sachi Sugiyama 9.900 (t3) Joanna Sampson 9.950 (t1) All-Around Joanna Sampson 39.575 (1) Katie Zurales 38.700 (5)
N O T E S
Michigan improves to 10-25 all-time against UCLA, improving to 6-8 in regular-season meets. It is also 2-2 all-time against California and 14-0 against Iowa State. Michigan and Iowa State will compete against each other for the third time this season on Saturday (March 16) inside Crisler Center.
It was the Wolverines' highest overall team score since March 7, 2008, vs. Georgia (197.600).
The Wolverines set new season bests in team score (197.550), on vault (49.550) and on uneven bars (49.575) on Saturday.
Michigan's team vault score (49.550) was its highest since Feb. 2, 2008, at the Michigan Classic (49.600). Also, it's score of 49.575 on uneven bars is the second-highest in program history, behind only a 49.625 from the 2004 Big Ten Championships.
The Wolverines' score on balance beam (48.925) was their lowest of the season. It was also only the third time this season that Michigan had failed to score above 49.000 in a rotation.
Joanna Sampson has won the floor exercise title in six-straight meets, scoring above 9.925 each time. She entered the week ranked No. 1 in the country in that event (9.940 RQS).
Sunday's meet also featured the nation's No. 1 and No. 2 all-arounders in Vanessa Zamarripa (UCLA) and Joanna Sampson. Zamarripa came into the week ranked No. 1 in the country, but finished second to Sampson on Sunday. It was Sampson's sixth all-around title this season.
Reema Zakharia was in the vault lineup for the fourth time this season and for the first time since Feb. 24 at West Virginia. Her previous career high on vault was 9.850, set Feb. 7, 2012, at the NCAA Auburn Regional.
Sachi Sugiyama set a new career best on uneven bars (9.950) and tied her career high on floor exercise (9.900). Her previous career best on uneven bars was 9.900, set at the 2012 Big Ten Championships.
With its score Sunday, Michigan's RQS will improve from 197.080 to 197.175. It is able to drop its 196.900 from Jan. 12 vs. Nebraska. Due to it being the highest score of the season, Michigan cannot include it in the RQS, but it can now include its 197.375 from Feb. 16 vs. Penn State.
Q U O T E S
U-M Sophomore Sachi Sugiyama
On her performances on Sunday ... "I'm very happy with how I did today. I was a little nervous going into bars just because we had a little mess up in the beginning. I just wanted to hit to the best of my ability. On vault, I believe that sticking is contagious. I don't stick that often, but seeing everyone stick in front of me gave me motivation. You've just got to stop trying to want to do something and just let it happen. On floor, I had probably my best routine as far as clean landings, probably the cleanest all year. It was a fun time. I just wanted to keep the energy going."
On what it says about the team that they can start on balance beam, not score their best but still come out and score high in the final three rotations ... "It says a lot. Bev always tells us to control what we can control. We've got a strong team of 14 girls. We know we can put it together regardless of what happens on the event before. All we can do is forget about it and move on. I think we did a great job of that today."
U-M Junior Reema Zakharia
On her performances ... "I'm just glad that I was able to translate the corrections in the gym to the competition floor. They need me to step in on vault and I am just glad I was happy to deliver with a good score. On floor, I wanted to make the crowd fall in love with Michigan and perform as best as I could. I had a blast doing it."
On the team's performance ... "We stuck with each other in every routine, one by one. We didn't let any of those little errors deter us from the end results and the end goal. We took little bites and finished on top at the end."
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423