Jan. 7, 2013
Promotions: Maize Star Event, Maize Out, Autographs, Pom-Pom giveaway
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Facility: Crisler Center | Donald R. Shepherd Women's Gymnastics Training Center
Fresh off its win at the Cancun Classic (Jan. 4), the No. 1-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) will compete for the first time at home in 2013 when it welcomes Nebraska (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten), the defending Big Ten champion, to Crisler Center on Saturday (Jan. 12). The meet, which is designated as the team's Maize Star Event, will begin at 4 p.m.
After a strong start in the season opener, Michigan and Florida are tied for No. 1 in the nation after the first week of competition (196.575). The GymInfo/Troester rankings are released every Monday and are determined by season scoring average until Feb. 25, at which point they will switch to Regional Qualifying Score (RQS). [ Rankings ]
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|Team Average||196.575, MICHIGAN/Florida|
|Vault||49.325, Florida||48.975 (9)|
|Uneven Bars||49.300, UCLA||49.075 (6)|
|Balance Beam||49.275, MICHIGAN|
|Floor Exercise||49.525, LSU||49.250 (3)|
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|All-Around||39.500, Rheagan Courville, LSU||39.425, Joanna Sampson (T-4)|
|39.300, Sachi Sugiyama (T-7)|
|39.275, Katie Zurales (9)|
|Vault||Three tied at 9.950||9.875, Joanna Sampson (T-11)|
|Uneven Bars||9.925, Morgan Evans (North Carolina)||9.850, Sachi Sugiyama (T-17)|
|9.850, Joanna Sampson (T-17)|
|Balance Beam||9.925, Katie Zurales, MICHIGAN|
|9.875, Joanna Sampson (T-3)|
|9.850, Brittnee Martinez (T-14)|
|9.825, Shelby Gies (T-21)|
|Floor Exercise||Two tied at 9.975||9.900, Sachi Sugiyama (T-5)|
|9.850, Reema Zakharia (T-18)|
|9.850, Stephanie Colbert (T-18)|
Michigan is 17-17-1 all-time against Nebraska. The two teams have met during the regular season in every year since 2003, with the Wolverines holding a 5-4-1 edge in those contests. The Cornhuskers were ranked No. 7 in the preseason poll and are the defending Big Ten champions. They return six NCAA All-Americans, including junior Emily Wong (2012 Big Ten champion in the all-around) and sophomore Jessie DeZiel (2012 Big Ten Freshman of the Year).
U-M is 22-1 in home openers under head coach Bev Plocki, including a stretch of 13 straight. Its only loss during the last 23 seasons came on Jan. 15, 1999, against Minnesota (L, 193.550-193.050).
This year, all eight Big Ten Conference teams will face each other during the regular season. Michigan went 4-2 against the Big Ten during the 2012 regular season, scoring wins against Ohio State, Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan State.
The Wolverines scored 196.575 at the Cancun Classic last Friday (Jan. 4), their highest score since the 2011 NCAA Semifinals (196.700, April 15, 2011). It took Michigan seven meets to achieve a post-196.000 score last season (scored 196.300, Feb. 24 at Oklahoma). Additionally, it is Michigan's highest score in a January meet since Jan. 26, 2008 (196,750 vs. Michigan State).
Michigan posted a score of 49.275 on balance beam at the Cancun Classic, surpassing its season high from last season of 49.150 (set March 16, 2012, vs. Michigan State). The only apparatus at the Cancun Classic in which Michigan did not crack 49.000 was vault (scored 48.975). Vault was its best event in 2012, scoring better than 49.000 in 10 meets.
Junior Joanna Sampson won her fifth all-around title at the Cancun Classic, scoring a career-best 39.425, winning the vault title (9.875) and tying for the uneven bars title with sophomore Sachi Sugiyama (9.850). Sugiyama finished second in the all-around (39.300) and also won the floor exercise title (9.900). Senior Katie Zurales took third in the all-around (39.275) and won the balance beam title (9.925).
Senior Natalie Beilstein competed in her first collegiate meet in nearly a year at the Cancun Classic, scoring 9.825 on floor exercise. Beilstein suffered a season-ending injury in the Wolverines' second meet of the 2012 season.
Michigan will appear on the Big Ten Network three times this season: Jan. 19, vs. Illinois (4 p.m., live), March 16, vs. Iowa State (4 p.m., live) and March 23, at the Big Ten Championships (TBA).
Q: The team had talked all fall about wanting to go out and show what they could do. How fulfilling was it to see them hit every routine and put up a great score in the first week of the season?
A: Any coach would tell you that it's great and exciting when you work towards something and then it falls into place. My hope is having the kind of meet that we had in Cancun solidifies our mindset that not only are we not afraid to do it, but we actually can do it. Now, there's a real belief versus just talking about it. Our beam lineup was so confident. After the competition, all I heard was them talking about how good they felt and how confident they felt. Those things are music to my ears. It's not them just looking at me saying, "Yeah, coach, I'm confident. I'm doing this," but, "I did it." It's more of a real feeling. Now, the key is keeping focus. It's a great start to our season, certainly, and we gained a great deal of confidence. We've got to maintain that and stay focused on what we're doing.
Q: Three freshmen competed in Cancun, but they only did one event each. Regardless, what did you see from them knowing it was their first collegiate competition? Did they seem rattled at all?
A: Absolutely not. Both Austin (Sheppard) and Briley (Casanova), who trained with us for only four days before we left for Cancun, seem to step it up a notch in competition. They love it. They didn't appear to be nervous at all. They were excited and ready to go. Lindsay (Williams) is a very even-keeled person. She doesn't get too nervous or too amped up. With Lindsay, what you see is what you get every day, which is good. We know what we can expect when we go into competition.
Q: You just touched on balance beam but what about vault? That was a strong event last year, but the team received a sub-49.000 score in Cancun. What can be fixed there?
A: In our sport, the judging is subjective. With that said, I thought our vaulting was very good. The averages were kept down because of a scoring discrepancy between the head judge's score and second judge's score. We had several kids who had really nice, big vaults. Sachi (Sugiyama) did a gorgeous one-and-a-half with a little step forward. Austin did a huge layout full, and it was so powerful, when she landed, she took a hop backwards. I think our average vault scores were not reflective of how well we actually did. Our kids still felt good about how we performed there even though the score is not what they'd like. We could do those same routines on Saturday in Crisler and score three-tenths higher. That's just the way our sport is.
Q: On Saturday, you've got the defending Big Ten champions in Nebraska coming into Crisler Center. It is the first home meet, but that will also serve as a measuring stick to see where you stack up against the team that was anointed to finish first in the Big Ten.
A: I think our team is excited about our first home meet, especially coming off this Cancun meet. The last time we were in Cancun, it was a disaster, and we had to redeem ourselves. We talked about that before we went down there. After the meet, it shifted to redeeming ourselves from two losses to Nebraska last year. I think they're excited about that. Nebraska is a great team, and they return virtually all its athletes from last year, as well. It'll make for a great competition.
LAST TIME OUT
The Wolverines captured the 2013 Cancun Classic title last Friday (Jan. 4), scoring 196.575 to beat BYU (194.475) and No. 9 Oregon State (193.600). [ Recap ]
Saturday, Jan. 19 -- vs. Illinois (Crisler Center), 4 p.m.
OTHER RELATED LINKS
The All-Around (Tuesday)
Bev Plocki on WTKA 1050 AM (Friday at 8:05 a.m.)
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423