March 24, 2012
Site: Iowa City, Iowa (Carver-Hawkeye Arena)
Event: Big Ten Championships
U-M Team Standing: 4th Place of 8 Teams (195.875)
U-M Record: 13-8 (8-5 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, April 7 -- at NCAA Regionals (Site TBA)
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The No. 21-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team used a comeback on the fourth rotation of the first session to surpass Illinois and claim fourth place at the Big Ten Championships, held on Saturday (March 24) inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Nebraska won the team championship (197.100).
Freshman Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) became the program's 77th Big Ten individual champion after winning the vault title (9.950); she also tied for second on uneven bars (9.900). Meanwhile, sophomore Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) tied for runner-up on vault. Both gymnasts were selected to the All-Championships Team at the conclusion of the meet.
The Wolverines, who competed with three other teams in session one, started the championships on beam, and made it through without a fall, scoring 48.725 as a squad. Freshman Annette Miele (Easton, Pa./Easton Area) scored a 9.800 to lead the team, making it the fifth time this season she has scored at least a 9.800. Junior Katie Zurales (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South) scored a 9.775 as the fourth competitor in the lineup, followed by sophomore Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central), who began the meet with a solid 9.750 score. Sampson scored a 9.700, the same as sophomore Stephanie Colbert (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley), who closed the rotation.
Michigan moved over to floor during the second rotation, scoring 48.750 as a team. Zurales led the team with a 9.825 score, followed by four scores of 9.700 or higher. The freshman duo of Miele and Sugiyama each scored 9.750, followed by Sampson at 9.725 and sophomore Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) at 9.700. The Wolverines had a team score of 97.475 after two rotations, and stood in third behind Illinois (97.850) and Michigan State (97.500).
The Wolverines then scored 49.375 on vault, their highest score in a month, led by Sugiyama's 9.950. Also scoring above a 9.900 was Sampson, who preceded Sugiyama with a 9.925 to tie for runner-up. Colbert scored a 9.825 as the leadoff competitor. Zurales and Miele were the other gymnasts to have their scores counted, scoring 9.875 and 9.825, respectively.
Michigan trailed by Illinois by one-tenth heading into the last rotation (146.950-146.850) but scored 9.700 in all five counted routines to surpass the Fighting Illini and win the session. Sugiyama led the way with a 9.900, tying for second, followed by Miele at 9.825, and Zurales and Gies with 9.800s. The Wolverines were assured the win after Colbert nailed her first-ever uneven bars routine, finishing with a 9.700 to bring the team's score to 49.025 on the apparatus. Illinois, which closed the meet on balance beam, scored 48.900, giving Michigan the breathing room it needed to win the session.
With Colbert's bar routine, Michigan had five gymnasts compete in the all-around for the first time all season. Zurales led the team with a 39.275, followed by Sugiyama at 39.250. Miele scored a career-best 39.175, while Colbert scored 38.650 and Sampson scored 38.600.
With the Big Ten Championships concluded, the Wolverines now turn their sights to NCAA Regionals on Saturday, April 7. The NCAA Regionals Announcement Show will take place on Monday (March 26) at 3 p.m. and can be seen via web stream on www.NCAA.com. The six regional sites this season are Arkansas, Auburn, Illinois, North Carolina State, Utah and Washington.
Event-by-Event U-M Individual Scores
Vault Stephanie Colbert 9.825 Annette Miele 9.800 Katie Zurales 9.875 Joanna Sampson 9.925 (t2) Sachi Sugiyama 9.950 (1) Reema Zakharia 9.675 Uneven Bars Katie Zurales 9.800 Annette Miele 9.825 Sachi Sugiyama 9.900 (t2) Joanna Sampson 9.250 Shelby Gies 9.800 Stephanie Colbert 9.700 Balance Beam Shelby Gies 9.750 Annette Miele 9.800 Joanna Sampson 9.700 Katie Zurales 9.775 Sachi Sugiyama 9.650 Stephanie Colbert 9.700 Floor Exercise Sachi Sugiyama 9.750 Stephanie Colbert 9.425 Annette Miele 9.750 Katie Zurales 9.825 Joanna Sampson 9.725 Reema Zakharia 9.700 All-Around Stephanie Colbert 38.650 Annette Miele 39.175 Joanna Sampson 38.600 Sachi Sugiyama 39.250 Katie Zurales 39.275
BIG TEN ALL-CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM
Jessie DeZiel - Nebraska
Jamie Schleppenbach - Nebraska
Emily Wong - Nebraska
Lora Evanstad - Nebraska
Janelle Giblin - Nebraska
Joanna Sampson - Michigan
Sachi Sugiyama - Michigan
Emma Stevenson - Iowa
Kelsey Joannides - Illinois
Sharaya Musser - Penn State
Amber Hammerschmidt - Minnesota
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP AWARD WINNERS
Gymnast of the Year: Sharaya Musser, Penn State
Freshman of the Year: Jessie DeZiel, Nebraska
Coach of the Year: Dan Kendig, Nebraska
N O T E S
Sachi Sugiyama becomes the program's 77th Big Ten individual champion and the program's 14th Big Ten vault champion. Additionally, her title means that Michigan has crowned at least one Big Ten individual champion at every conference meet dating back to 1991 (22 straight meets).
It was the team's fourth-highest overall score this season (195.875).
It was the program's lowest score and finish in a Big Ten meet since the 2006 Big Ten Championships in East Lansing, Mich. (194.475, fourth).
The fourth-place finish snaps Michigan's streak of five consecutive Big Ten Championships. It's only the third time since 1992 that Michigan did not win the conference championship (1998, 2006).
Michigan's score of 49.375 on vault is the second highest of the season and highest since the Feb. 24 tri-meet with Oklahoma and Texas Women's University.
Sachi Sugiyama won the uneven bars title during the morning session and was the meet's top competitor until Nebraska's Lora Evenstad scored a 9.925 in the first rotation of the second session.
It was the first time this season that Stephanie Colbert was the team's first competitor on vault.
Michigan has not counted a fall on balance beam since Feb. 17 against Utah.
Katie Zurales was chosen as the team's representative for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award.
The Wolverines can include today's 195.875 into its Regional Qualifying Score (RQS), and drop the 195.300 from March 9 against Georgia. With the score factored in, the team's RQS will jump from 195.710 to 195.825.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Bev Plocki
On the team's performance ... "I liked the competitive spirit. For how young our team is, I was really, really pleased with how they did. We still made some small mistakes, but we want our best meet of the season to be at NCAA Regionals, but overall, I thought it was a pretty good meet."
On balance beam ... "I thought we started out and did well on beam. Judging on different events was tighter in some places and not as tight in other. I thought the beam scoring was pretty consistent throughout. We did a good job of preparing themselves mentally to start the meet on balance beam. We talked about it and practiced it. I was very pleased with how we started. Balance beam is a big pressure event, especially in the beginning of a meet when you've got so much adrenaline built up. It's not always a good thing to be really fired up there.
On vault ... "Our vault performance was outstanding. That's the most vaults we stuck in one rotation all year, so I was excited with that. That brought a big adrenaline boost with that going into the last event."
On Sachi Sugiyama ... "Sachi was outstanding. She has continued to demonstrate a lot of maturity, strength and competitive toughness. She is a very strong-minded person and I thought she did a great job tonight."
On Stephanie Colbert and her pressure-packed bars routine ... "There was a lot of pressure on her, no question. Her first routine at Georgia last year, she did great. Her first bars routine here was great. She definitely saved us at the end, and I am very proud of her, and how she has come along this season."
U-M Junior Katie Zurales
On how she felt the team performed ... "I think we have a lot to be proud of. Big Tens is always an exciting meet. We had some incredible performances and awesome rotations. As a whole, we did our job, and there's only so much we can do."
On the difficulty of starting the meet on balance beam ... "It was kind of tough. The first event, you get your nerves out. It was challenging, but we started off solid. I am so proud of everyone. We all went out there and hit really solid routines. Again, I think we have a lot to be proud of, and I can't say that enough."
On the team's vault performance ... "After vault, I told the team, 'Guys, I am so inspired by everyone and everything we have done'. It was awesome for Steph to start out with an incredible stick, and for everyone to build off of that. It was nice to bring it back after a shaky floor rotation."
On if they are peaking at the right time ... "Yeah, I think we are. I think every meet boosts our confidence here and there. We have worked so hard this year, and put our heart and soul into every meet. If we keep doing our thing, we'll be good to go."
U-M Sophomore Stephanie Colbert
On if she was expecting to be an all-arounder ... "Going into today, I was not expecting to do it. I was planning on doing vault, beam and floor like I've been doing the last couple of weeks, and continue to be the bars backup. After vault, Scott [Sherman] told me I was going no matter what, and when Jo casted over, I told myself it was time to hit a bars routine. I've been working hard on bars, and while I don't have the most difficult routine, just making it consistent, and knowing that I can go do it if called upon was really big. I was excited that I could make today the day."
On what went through her mind after she was told she was going on uneven bars ... "After vault, I took it as a challenge. I've never competed on bars, and knew it wasn't my best event, but felt confident. I tried to tell myself that it's just another routine in the gym, and focus on doing what I needed to do."
On if she felt the pressure before her bars routine ... "Standing there before I saluted, I was pretty nervous. As soon as I started going, I felt better."
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423