Women's Gymnastics Captures Big Ten Championship

March 27, 2010

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Date: March 27, 2010
Site: Columbus, Ohio (St. John Arena)
Outcome: 1st of 7 teams, 196.900
Records: No. 9 U-M (19-3, 10-1 Big Ten), No. 17 Penn State (17-9, 8-3 Big Ten), Iowa (11-13, 5-8 Big Ten), No. 25 Michigan State (15-9, 6-6 Big Ten), Minnesota (7-16, 4-8 Big Ten), No. 13 Illinois (13-12, 7-7 Big Ten), Ohio State (4-13, 1-9 Big Ten)
Attendance: 1,717
Next U-M Event: Saturday, April 10 -- at NCAA Regional Championships (TBD)

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The No. 9 University of Michigan women's gymnastics team won its fourth-straight Big Ten Championship and the program's 17th title in 19 years Saturday (March 27) at the Big Ten Championships, setting a season-high score in the process (196.900).

The Wolverines never trailed in the meet, holding a slight edge over No. 17 Penn State in the final rotation before sealing the championship victory with the program's fifth-best balance beam score (49.450). Michigan staked its claim with back-to-back 9.900s on beam from senior Sarah Curtis (Reno, Nev./Reno) and freshman Katie Zurales (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South), finishing the rotation with another pair of 9.900s from junior Kylee Botterman (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central) and senior Kelsey Knutson (Ames, Iowa/Ames).

The beam rotation capped a strong overall meet for the Wolverines, who posted the highest event scores on vault (49.125) and beam (49.450). Curtis was the Wolverines' top all-arounder, taking second in the all-around (39.525) and finishing runner-up on three events - vault (9.875), beam (9.900) and floor (9.900). Big Ten Freshman of the Year finalist Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch) won the vault title with a 9.900, becoming Michigan's 15th athlete to win the honor and the first since Katie Lieberman in 2006.

Big Ten Gymnast of the Year finalist, junior Kylee Botterman (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central) slipped up on bars but managed runner-up finishes on beam (9.900) and floor (9.900) and a third-place finish on vault (9.850).

After the meet, Penn State's Brandi Personett was named Big Ten Gymnast of the Year, while her teammate Sharaya Musser was voted Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Michigan head coach Bev Plocki and Illinois head coach Bob Starkell shared the Big Ten Coach of the Year award. It was the 10th of Plocki's career and the third for Starkell.

Michigan started the meet on a bye, as four of the six teams failed to top 49.000 on any event. When the Wolverines did hit the floor exercise in rotation two, they tallied a 49.200, led by back-to-back-to-back 9.900 scores from Curtis, Beilstein and Botterman.

Michigan sat out the third rotation on another bye before heading to vault where Illinois had set the benchmark earlier with a 48.925 team score in the previous rotation. Beilstein nailed a 9.900 vault to lead the way, followed closely by Curtis' 9.875 and Botterman's 9.850 to give U-M a 49.125 vault score, putting them in a tie with Penn State with two events down.

U-M rotated to bars where no team had scored better than 48.925 through four rotations. Michigan scored 49.125 to set the event high, but despite strong routines throughout the line-up, were capped at 9.850 with Curtis, senior Maureen Moody (East Lansing, Mich./East Lansing) and senior Jordan Sexton (Weddington, N.C./Weddington) topping out at 9.850.

The Wolverines sat out their final bye while Penn State scored 48.825 on vault to fall behind the Wolverines by 0.275 with one event remaining. Michigan matched up on beam, while Penn State took to the bars. The Wolverines wasted no time, putting up back-to-back scores of 9.900 from Curtis and freshman Katie Zurales (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South) and then ending the rotation with 9.900s from Botterman and Knuston to finish with a 49.450 beam score - tying for the fifth best total in U-M program history.

The Big Ten Network telecast of the Championships will re-air on Sunday (March 28) at 2 a.m. and again on Monday (March 29) at noon.

Michigan will wait until Monday (March 29) to learn where they will be sent for the NCAA Regional Championships which begin Saturday (April 10) at six campus sites around the country. Six teams will be sent to each regional with the top two at each site earning a berth into the NCAA Championships. The Wolverines are guaranteed their 19th-straight NCAA Regional appearance.

Team Standings Vault Bars Beam Floor Total
Michigan 49.125 49.1255 49.450 49.200 196.900
Penn State 48.850 49.350 49.025 49.300 196.525
Iowa 48.525 48.975 49.200 48.875 195.575
Michigan State 48.925 48.825 48.675 49.025 195.350
Minnesota 48.725 48.925 48.950 48.775 195.350
Illinois 48.925 48.150 49.100 48.850 195.025
Ohio State 48.700 48.525 48.725 48.750 194.700

Event-by-Event U-M Individual Scores

Kari Pearce          9.700
Katie Zurales        9.750
Brittnee Martinez    9.750
Sarah Curtis         9.875 (2)
Natalie Beilstein    9.900 (1)
Kylee Botterman      9.850 (t3)

Uneven Bars Kelsey Knutson 9.750 Maureen Moody 9.850 (t5) Brittnee Martinez 9.825 Jordan Sexton 9.850 (t5) Sarah Curtis 9.850 (t5) Kylee Botterman 9.325

Balance Beam Sarah Curtis 9.900 (t2) Katie Zurales 9.900 (t2) Jordan Sexton 9.750 Brittnee Martinez 9.850 Kylee Botterman 9.900 (t2) Kelsey Knutson 9.900 (t2)

Floor Exercise Jaclyn Kramer 9.600 Brittnee Martinez 9.700 Jordan Sexton 9.800 Sarah Curtis 9.900 (t2) Natalie Beilstein 9.900 (t2) Kylee Botterman 9.900 (t2)

All-Around Sarah Curtis 39.525 (2) Brittnee Martinez 39.150 Kylee Botterman 38.975

Contact: Rich Retyi (734) 763-4423

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