April 18, 2014
Site: Birmingham, Ala. (Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex)
Event: NCAA Championships (Semifinal Session I)
U-M Team Result: 5th of 6 Teams (196.425)
U-M Record: 28-8 (14-2 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Sunday, April 20 -- at NCAA Championships - Individual Event Finals (Birmingham, Ala.), 2 p.m. CDT
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- For the 20th time in the last 22 seasons, the No. 7-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team closed out its season at the NCAA Championships, finishing fifth (196.425) on Friday (April 18) in the first semifinal session inside the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. Oklahoma (197.550), Georgia (197.1750 and LSU (197.100) all advanced through to tomorrow's Super Six.
Senior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) had the highest all-around score of any competitor in the afternoon session (39.550) and advanced to Individual Event Finals on Sunday (April 20) on uneven bars and floor exercise. Junior Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) also made event finals on vault. Four gymnasts received NCAA All-America honors: Sampson on uneven bars (first team), floor exercise (first team) and the all-around (first team); freshman Nicole Artz (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa) on uneven bars (second team), floor exercise (second team) and the all-around (first team); Sugiyama on vault (first team); and senior Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) on uneven bars (second team).
The Wolverines got off to a solid start on uneven bars, scoring 49.325. All six gymnasts in the order scored at least 9.800 and all six stuck their landings. Sampson made up for her mishap on the same even two weeks ago at NCAA Regionals, leading the team with a 9.900. Preceding her was Sugiyama, who, as she has done most of the season, got the team off to a dazzling start in the leadoff position (9.850). Artz and Gieseach scored 9.875s in the second and third spots in front of Sampson. The other counted routine came from fifth-year Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch), receiving a 9.825 in the fifth spot.
Michigan moved to balance beam for the second rotation but had to count a fall, scoring only 48.350. Artz and fellow freshman Talia Chiarelli (Boston, Mass./Lexington) each scored 9.750 to start the rotation off. The Wolverines had to navigate around some adversity after sophomore Lindsay Williams (Northville, Mich./Northville) was unable to stay on the beam in the third spot. Senior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) had to do a little improvisation in the fourth position. After missing on her front toss-back tuck connection on the flight series, Zakharia went back and did it again cleanly in the middle of the routine. She scored 9.800. Sampson followed with the best routine of the rotation, scoring 9.850. Sophomore Briley Casanova (Dallas, Texas/Spring Creek Academy) went up in the anchor spot needing to hit to save the rotation but fell off during her flight series at the end of the routine. Halfway through the meet, U-M was in fifth, nearly a full point behind leaders Oklahoma (98.925), LSU (98.700) and Georgia (98.650).
After a bye, Michigan went to floor during the fourth rotation and rebounded, scoring 49.450 as a team. The rotation was highlighted by Sampson in the anchor spot, as the defending champion put up a 9.950 to safely secure a spot in Sunday's individual event finals. Like on uneven bars earlier in the meet, all six gymnasts scored above 9.800, including Sugiyama (9.800), Chiarelli (9.850) and Beilstein (9.875). Artz punctuated a fantastic season on the floor exercise, scoring 9.900 in her first NCAA Championships, while Zakharia put up a 9.875 in the fifth spot.
U-M closed the meet on vault and was led by Sugiyama, who stuck her dynamite Yurchenko 1.5, receiving a score of 9.900 from the judging panel. The sticks were contagious, as Artz (career-high 9.850), Zakharia (9.825) and Chiarelli (9.850) each followed suit with their respective performances. Seniors Sampson and Beilstein ended the rotation with matching 9.850s. The Wolverines closed out the meet on a bye, officially finishing in fifth place.
Sampson (uneven bars, floor exercise) and Sugiyama (vault) will return for individual event finals on Sunday (April 20). They will be shown live on ESPN3.com and begin at 2 p.m. CDT.
Event Winners/U-M Finishers
Vault Sachi Sugiyama 9.900 Nicole Artz 9.850 Reema Zakharia 9.825 Talia Chiarelli 9.850 Joanna Sampson 9.850 Natalie Beilstein 9.850 Uneven Bars Sachi Sugiyama 9.850 Nicole Artz 9.875 Shelby Gies 9.875 Joanna Sampson 9.900 Natalie Beilstein 9.825 Lindsay Williams 9.800 Balance Beam Nicole Artz 9.750 Talia Chiarelli 9.750 Lindsay Williams 9.150 Reema Zakharia 9.800 Joanna Sampson 9.850 Briley Casanova 9.200 Floor Exercise Sachi Sugiyama 9.800 Talia Chiarelli 9.850 Natalie Beilstein 9.875 Nicole Artz 9.900 Reema Zakharia 9.875 Joanna Sampson 9.950 All-Around Nicole Artz 39.375 Joanna Sampson 39.550
Contact: Brad Rudner (firstname.lastname@example.org)