2011 Big Ten Champions
March 19, 2011
Site: Minneapolis, Minn. (Sports Pavilion)
Event: Big Ten Championships
U-M Team Finish: 1st of 7 Teams (196.600)
Records: U-M (17-5, 10-1 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, April 2 -- at NCAA Northeast Regional Championships (Crisler Arena), 6 p.m.
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Fifth-year senior Jordan Sexton (Weddington, N.C./Weddington) and senior and Big Ten Gymnast of the Year Kylee Botterman (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central) captured the beam and floor titles, respectively, as the No. 9-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (196.600) won the Big Ten Championships for the fifth straight season, and 19th overall, on Saturday (March 19) at Minnesota's Sports Pavilion. Botterman and senior Sarah Curtis (Reno, Nev./Reno) tied for runner-up on beam, while freshman Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) tied for second on floor.
A 48.800 score on the uneven bars put the Wolverines behind the eight ball at the midway point, with No. 10 Penn State and No. 15 Ohio State ahead of the Wolverines, but a solid 49.100 on balance beam and a historic 49.525 floor exercise total clinched the victory. The title is Michigan's fifth in a row, the 18th in the last 20 years and the program's 19th overall.
Michigan seniors were instrumental in the comeback, with Sexton winning the beam title with a 9.875 and Botterman tying a career high in taking the floor crown with a 9.950. Sexton also added a third-place 9.850 on bars and a key 9.875 on floor, while Botterman scored a runner-up worthy 9.850 on beam. Other individual Wolverine stars included Curtis, who took runner-up on beam with a season-high 9.850 and recorded a season-best 9.875 on floor in the clutch, and senior Trish Wilson (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley), who claimed third 9.850 on bars.
The Wolverines' underclassmen showed their guts as well with Sampton taking runner-up on floor with a collegiate-best 9.925, freshman Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) taking fourth on floor with a career-best 9.900 and sophomores Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch) and Katie Zurales (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South) tying for fourth on vault with matching scores of 9.850.
Michigan sat out on a bye for the first of seven rotations, watching Ohio State set the tone for the championships on floor with a 49.100 score, followed by a respectable 49.075 vault score for Penn State. Iowa (48.725) and Michigan State (48.525) struggled on their respective events, making their task all the more difficult.
The Wolverines opened their meet in the second rotation on vault, scoring 49.175 thanks to a trio of 9.850 scores from Botterman, Beilstein and Zurales. Penn State remained among the leaders with a 49.225 turn on bars, while Minnesota opened its meet with a 49.200 on floor.
Michigan faced major adversity in the third rotation with some bad luck on bars. The Wolverines managed a 48.800, narrowly counting a fall. Botterman tumbled on her dismount -- her first fall in nearly two years on any event -- and late substitution Beilstein needed an extra swing in her routine to stay on the bars, eking out a 9.575. Sexton and Wilson kept Michigan afloat with matching 9.850s.
The Wolverines got a lucky break while waiting in the locker room on bye in the fourth rotation as all three frontrunners posted sub-par scores on their events to tighten the meet and keep the door open for a Michigan comeback. Penn State managed just a 48.750 on beam, Minnesota a 48.800 on vault and Ohio State a 48.875 on bars.
Michigan took control of its destiny and totaled its fourth-best beam score of the year, going 49.100 thanks to a season-best 9.850 from Curtis, a 9.875 from Sexton and a bounce-back 9.850 from Botterman to take a 0.025 point lead over Penn State through three events.
In the sixth rotation, Michigan sat back and watched three teams wrap up their championships, with Penn State nailing a 49.325 on floor and Ohio State struggling with a 48.000 on beam to knock them out of contention.
The task was set before the Wolverines with just floor remaining -- score a 49.325 and win their fifth straight Big Ten championship. Curtis led off with a season-high 9.850 and was followed by Sampson's career-best 9.925 to get the Wolverines off to a hot start. Sexton followed with a big 9.875 and Zakharia sparkled with a career-best 9.900. With two performers remaining, Michigan needed a single 9.800 score to win the title. Beilstein did them 0.075 better, posting a 9.875 to seal the meet and leaving Botterman's show-stopping 9.950 at the end to put an exclamation point on the meet. The 49.525 floor total was Michigan's third-best all-time postseason mark, just behind a pair of 49.575 scores posted at the 2000 and 2001 Big Ten Championships.
Next up for U-M is playing host to the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships on April 2 at 6 p.m. inside Crisler Arena. For tickets, visit MGoBlue.com/tickets. The field will be finalized on Monday (March 21) with full details available on MGoBlue.com.
Event-by-Event U-M Individual Scores
Vault Kari Pearce 9.775 Sarah Curtis 9.800 Joanna Sampson 9.825 Katie Zurales 9.850 (t4) Natalie Beilstein 9.850 (t4) Kylee Botterman 9.850 (t4) Uneven Bars Shelby Gies 9.775 Sarah Curtis 9.750 Jordan Sexton 9.850 (t3) Kylee Botterman 9.275 Trish Wilson 9.850 (t3) Natalie Beilstein 9.575 Balance Beam Shelby Gies 9.725 Joanna Sampson 9.675 Sarah Curtis 9.850 (t2) Jordan Sexton 9.875 (1) Kylee Botterman 9.850 (t2) Katie Zurales 9.800 Floor Exercise Sarah Curtis 9.850 Joanna Sampson 9.925 (t2) Jordan Sexton 9.875 Reema Zakharia 9.900 (t4) Natalie Beilstein 9.875 Kylee Botterman 9.950 (1) All-Around Sarah Curtis 39.250 (4) Kylee Botterman 38.925
Contact: Richard Retyi (734) 763-4423