Maize & Blue Falls One Spot Shy of Advancing to NCAA Finals
Katie Zurales

April 20, 2013

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Site: Los Angeles, Calif. (Pauley Pavilion)
Event: NCAA Championships (Semifinals & All-Around)
U-M Team Result: 4th Place of 6 Teams (196.850)
U-M Record: 31-5 (17-2 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Sunday, April 21 -- at NCAA Championships - Individual Event Finals (Los Angeles, Calif.), 1 p.m. PDT

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- The No. 7 -ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team put up the program's second-highest team score at the NCAA Championships but missed out on qualifying for the NCAA Super Six, scoring 196.850 on Friday (April 19) at Pauley Pavilion. Alabama (197.350), Oklahoma (197.200) and UCLA (197.200) all advanced to Super Six out of the evening session.

Three gymnasts received NCAA All-America honors: senior Katie Zurales (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South) on uneven bars (second team), balance beam (first team), floor exercise (second team) and all-around (first team), junior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland) on vault (first team), floor exercise (first team) and in the all-around (first team), and senior Brittnee Martinez (Colorado Springs, Doherty) on uneven bars (second team). Sampson and Zurales each tied for first in the all-around of tonight's session (39.525) and will advance to Sunday's (April 22) individual-event finals -- Sampson on vault and floor exercise and Zurales on balance beam.

The Wolverines began the meet on uneven bars and got off a blazing start, scoring 49.400 as a team, their highest score on that apparatus at the NCAA Championships since 1998. Stuck landings were a big reason why, as Zurales and Brittnee Martinez (Colorado Springs, Colo./Doherty) led the team with 9.900s, while juniors Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) and Sampson followed with 9.875s. Senior Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch) and sophomore Annette Miele (Easton, Pa./Easton Area) closed out the rotation with 9.850s.

Michigan had to settle down quickly, as it moved to balance beam next. Despite all six competitors staying on the beam, the Wolverines only managed to score a 48.775 as a team, as balance checks likely kept some tenths off the board. Zurales was the team's top scorer, coming through with a 9.875 routine. The next two high scorers were Sampson and Gies, each scoring 9.775. The fifth counted score came from Miele (9.600), and the Wolverines went into their first bye with a team score of 98.175.

The Wolverines were in fifth place at the halfway point but made up some ground in the team score following floor exercise, scoring 49.400. Sampson led the squad with a 9.925 score, complete with her patented double layout on the first pass, while Zurales grabbed a 9.900 after near-flawless execution on her three tumbling passes. Sugiyama got a 9.875 from the judges, while the other two scores came from Beilstein and Zakharia (9.850).

Michigan wrapped up on vault (49.275). Sampson stuck her Yurchenko one-and-a-half to tie for a session-high 9.950 score. Freshman Austin Sheppard (Dallas, Texas/Plano East) was second on the team with a score of 9.875, just a slight step off on the landing from a big score. Zurales, who was challenging for the all-around crown all evening, led off the rotation with a 9.850, while junior Stephanie Colbert (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) contributed a score of 9.825. The fifth counted score came from Sugiyama (9.775). The Wolverines ended on a bye, but UCLA met the requirement on uneven bars, pushing the Wolverines out of the mix.

Sampson and Zurales will return for individual-event finals on Sunday at Pauley Pavilion. The meet will begin at 1 p.m. PDT and be shown on

Team StandingsVaultBarsBeamFloorTotal

Event-by-Event U-M Individual Scores

Katie Zurales                9.850
Natalie Beilstein            9.725
Joanna Sampson               9.950
Sachi Sugiyama               9.775
Austin Sheppard              9.875
Stephanie Colbert            9.825
Uneven Bars
Shelby Gies                  9.875
Annette Miele                9.850
Katie Zurales                9.900
Brittnee Martinez            9.900
Joanna Sampson               9.875
Natalie Beilstein            9.850
Balance Beam
Shelby Gies                  9.775
Brittnee Martinez            9.550
Annette Miele                9.600
Joanna Sampson               9.775
Katie Zurales                9.875
Briley Casanova              9.750
Floor Exercise
Natalie Beilstein            9.850
Stephanie Colbert            9.775
Katie Zurales                9.900
Reema Zakharia               9.850
Sachi Sugiyama               9.875
Joanna Sampson               9.925
Joanna Sampson               39.525
Katie Zurales                39.525


• Michigan finishes with a record of 31-5, the most number of wins (regular season and postseason) in a single season since 2005 (32-7).

• Michigan's score on Friday is its second-highest team score ever at the NCAA Championships. The program's best score was 197.275 at the 2001 Super Six.

• The Wolverines tied a program best for highest floor exercise score at the NCAA Championships. They also scored 49.400 at the 2005 Super Six. Additionally, the program had their second-best score on uneven bars (49.400) at an NCAA Championships meet. The program high was 49.425, set at the 1997 Super Six. The Wolverines also scored 49.400 at the 1998 NCAA Preliminaries.

• Michigan's team score on uneven bars is its second highest of the season, second to its score of 49.575 on March 10 at UCLA. It also scored 49.400 at the Big Ten Championships on March 23.

Joanna Sampson and Katie Zurales tied for the fourth-highest all-around score in program history at the NCAA Championships (39.525).

• The Wolverines' team score on balance beam (48.775) is their lowest of the season.

Katie Zurales was back in the lineup on uneven bars. She did not compete on that apparatus at NCAA Regionals. She scored a 9.900 today, marking the fourth time this season she has scored at or above that score.

• The Wolverines had the highest score of the six teams that did not qualify to Super Six. They will finish the season ranked No. 7. Additionally, they have finished the season ranked in the top 10 in 15 of the last 18 seasons.

Katie Zurales finished her career with seven NCAA All-America honors, tied for eighth most by a single gymnast in program history. She is the ninth gymnast in program history to receive four honors in the same NCAA Championships, joining Kylee Botterman (2011), Sarah Cain (2000), Jenny Deiley (2003), Heather Kabnick (1998), Wendy Marshall (1996), Elise Ray (2001, 2002), Calli Ryals (2002) and Beth Wymer (1994, 1995).

• With three honors on Friday, Joanna Sampson became the program's 40th NCAA All-American. Those 40 gymnasts have combined for 156 total honors (88 first team, 68 second team).


Michigan Head Coach Bev Plocki
On the session ... "We knew coming in that this would be a killer session. Every team that's here is very good and very experienced at this level. There are four teams that have won a national championship and three of them were in our session, so we knew it would be a challenge. In order to do it, we would need to have a very, very good meet. We started out strong, but then for whatever reason didn't have the best rotation on balance beam. I don't know how we could have been any more prepared. All but Katie had one wobble somewhere. No falls, but those kept the scores low enough that it really cost us in the end. I thought we were very strong on floor, did pretty well on vault and floor and below average on beam. We gave it our best shot but unfortunately came up a few tenths short tonight."

On the mentality after balance beam ... "First off, our team never quit tonight. However, I thought our energy did go down a little after team. The bye we had right after certainly didn't help that. It's very hard to come off an event you're a little disappointed with and go to a bye. We had an empty rotation to sit around and think about it. During the year when you don't have byes, you can move onto something else and your mind changes. We came out, picked ourselves up and performed, but it wasn't with the same exuberance that we started the meet out on bars."

On Katie Zurales and Joanna Sampson ... "Those two absolutely had a great competition. It was down to the wire whether Katie would be in the bar lineup. She had her elbow tweaked at Big Tens and didn't train or compete there at Regionals. She potentially wasn't even going to be an all-arounder tonight and look what she did. I'm very excited for them both.

On Brittnee Martinez ... "She's the one right now that's hurting the most. Katie gets to delay her end of gymnastics emotion until after event finals and Natalie is coming back next year. Brittnee felt that brunt of that tonight, but she certainly had a phenomenal year, probably her best season at Michigan. I don't want her to remember this last competition. I want her to remember the fabulous season she had and how valuable she has been to this team all year long."

On individual event finals ... "Not having to compete tomorrow, I guess it's a little bit of silver lining. All the athletes that compete tomorrow in Super Six, Sunday will be their third day in a row of competition. It's a little bit of an advantage. Individual event finals are different. Everyone is out there as an individual. It's a totally different atmosphere. Even athletes from different teams are supporting and cheering for each other. It's kind of fun in that way."

On if Friday's result will motivate the team even further for next year ... "Absolutely. It's just another rung on the ladder higher but we're still not satisfied with where we finished. We fully expected that we would be competing tomorrow because we had that confidence and our preparation was good. Unfortunately, it didn't fall in our favor. I think that after seeing what the preparation did for them last year going into this year, I think they'll be pretty motivated to work hard over the summer. I want them to take some down time when we get back, close out the year strong, but I fully expect them to kick it back into full gear during the summer."

U-M Senior Katie Zurales
On the team's effort ... "It was incredible. We fought until the very end. My heart just breaks for this team because we're so special. I don't think anyone understands just how much work we put into this coming from where we were last year to this year. It's really tough, I'm not going to lie, but I know this team still has that fire, drive and fight."

Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423

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