U-M Wins Regional Crown to Punch Ticket to 21st NCAA Championships
Nicole Artz

April 5, 2014

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Site: Athens, Ga. (Stegeman Coliseum)
Event: NCAA Athens Regional
U-M Team Standing: 1st Place of 6 Teams (196.750)
Attendance: 4,954
Next U-M Event: Fri-Sun., April 18-20 -- at NCAA Championships (Birmingham, Ala.)

ATHENS, Ga. -- The No. 7-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team won an NCAA Regional championship for the second consecutive year on Saturday (April 5), defeating five other teams inside Stegeman Coliseum to punch its ticket to the NCAA Championships for the 21st time in program history. The Wolverines scored 196.750 and will advance to nationals with second-place and host Georgia (196.375), as both teams finished ahead of Central Michigan (195.600), Ohio State (195.100), North Carolina State (194.550) and Rutgers (193.725).

Freshman Nicole Artz (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa), the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, won the all-around (39.325), tied for first on balance beam (9.850) and tied for second on floor exercise (9.925). Senior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) claimed top honors on floor exercise (9.950) and was named NCAA Northeast Region Gymnast of the Year for the second consecutive year.

The Wolverine started out on a bye before heading to floor exercise in the second rotation, but when they finally got on the floor, they started the meet with a bang. U-M started out with a 49.575 score, nearly matching Georgia routine-for-routine on each team's respective best events, as the GymDogs scored 49.600 on uneven bars. Junior Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) got the team rolling, putting up a 9.900 in the very first position, allowing others to follow suit. Freshman Talia Chiarelli (Boston, Mass./Lexington) scored 9.850 in her first floor exercise routine since late February, while fifth-year senior Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch) and senior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) both scored 9.900s. Sandwiched in-between those two was Artz at 9.925. Sampson anchored the rotation as she's done all season, scoring 9.950.

Michigan moved to vault in the third rotation needing to make up some tenths after losing sophomore Austin Sheppard (Murphy, Texas/Plano East), the team's anchor and highest scorer, to a season-ending injury last week in practice. The lineup was shuffled around with Sugiyama leading off, with the junior scoring a solid 9.850 on a huge Yurchenko 1.5 with a step on the landing. Artz and Zakharia scored 9.700 and 9.750 in the next two spots, respectively, before Chiarelli stuck a Yurchenko Full in the fourth spot to score 9.850, tying a career high. The rotation was anchored by Sampson (9.850) and Beilstein, who recorded a much-needed 9.900 with a powerful Yurchenko 1.5. Michigan led at the halfway point (98.775), followed by Georgia (98.075) and Ohio State (97.900).

U-M came out of its second bye on uneven bars during the fourth rotation and scored 49.275 as a team. As she had done all day, Sugiyama got the team off to a solid start, scoring 9.800 in the opening position. Artz followed with a 9.850, thanks to a powerful double layout dismount. Senior Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) hit a near-flawless routine in the third spot, scoring 9.875 before U-M hit its first patch of adversity on the afternoon on a Sampson fall while attempting her Tkatchev release move. Beilstein played the role of stopper, scoring 9.900 in the fifth position, but the loudest cheers came for sophomore Lindsay Williams (Northville, Mich./Northville), who scored a career-best 9.850 in a pressure spot to save the rotation.

The Wolverines moved to balance beam in the final rotation needing to hit in order to advance. Despite a few wobbles, the team went six-for-six, ensuring its spot among the final two. Artz was as steady in the leadoff spot as she had been all year, scoring 9.850 to tie for first on the event. Chiarelli followed at 9.775, while Gies fought through some balance checks to keep the hits coming. Williams came through with another solid routine (9.750), followed by Sampson (9.600) and sophomore Briley Casanova (Dallas, Texas/Spring Creek Academy), who returned to the lineup for the first time in nearly a month, scoring 9.725.

Michigan will move on to the NCAA Championships, held April 18-20 at the BJCC in Birmingham, Ala. It will be the program's 21st overall appearance and for the 20th time since 1992.

Team StandingsVaultBarsBeamFloorTotal
Central Michigan48.57548.80049.00049.225195.600
Ohio State48.90048.97548.225 49.000195.100
North Carolina State48.85048.15048.42549.125194.550

Event Winners/U-M Finishers

Sachi Sugiyama                 9.850
Nicole Artz                    9.700
Reema Zakharia                 9.750
Talia Chiarelli                9.850
Joanna Sampson                 9.850
Natalie Beilstein              9.900 (t2)
Uneven Bars
Sachi Sugiyama                 9.800
Nicole Artz                    9.850
Shelby Gies                    9.875
Joanna Sampson                 9.225
Natalie Beilstein              9.900 (t3)
Lindsay Williams               9.850
Balance Beam
Nicole Artz                    9.850 (t1)
Talia Chiarelli                9.775
Shelby Gies                    9.550
Lindsay Williams               9.750
Joanna Sampson                 9.600
Briley Casanova                9.725
Floor Exercise
Sachi Sugiyama                 9.900 (t3)
Talia Chiarelli                9.850
Natalie Beilstein              9.900 (t3)
Nicole Artz                    9.925 (2)
Reema Zakharia                 9.900 (t3)
Joanna Sampson                 9.950 (1)
Nicole Artz                    39.325 (1)
Joanna Sampson                 38.625

Contact: Brad Rudner (brudner@umich.edu)

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