Jan. 9, 2012
The No. 10-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten) officially opens the 2012 season on Friday (Jan. 13), when it welcomes No. 18 Ohio State (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) to the Crisler Center for a 6 p.m. dual meet.
THE WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS RUNDOWN
Ohio State is ranked No. 18 in the GymInfo Preseason Top 25 Poll, and is already 1-0 after earning a Big Ten road victory at Minnesota, 195.375-195.075, last Saturday (Jan. 7) in Minneapolis. The Buckeyes are led by sophomore Sarah Miller, the 2011 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Miller posted a career-high 9.925 on vault, as well as scores of 9.850 (beam) and 9.825 (floor) against Minnesota. Ohio State is coached by Carey Fagan, who is in her seventh season.
Michigan begins the year ranked No. 10 in the 2012 GymInfo Top 25 Preseason Coaches Poll, receiving 641 points and two first-place votes. Seven Big Ten teams were ranked, including Michigan, Nebraska (No. 6), Penn State (No. 13), Illinois (No. 15), Ohio State (No. 18), Minnesota (No. 22) and Iowa (No. 25). [ Release | Poll ]
Among The Big Ten's Best
The Wolverines, fresh off winning their fifth straight Big Ten championship last year, were picked to finish second in 2012 in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches poll, second to only new conference member Nebraska. Additionally, freshman Sachi Sugiyama and junior Katie Zurales were named Big Ten Women's Gymnasts to Watch. [ Release ]
Led by a dynamic group of seniors, including NCAA all-around champion Kylee Botterman, the Wolverines kept numerous streaks alive in 2011. They won their fifth straight (19th overall) Big Ten title, advanced to their 20th NCAA Regional Championship and reached the NCAA Championships for the 19th time in the last 20 years. In all, Michigan finished sixth at the NCAA Championships, reaching the Super Six for the 10th time in program history (first appearance since 2005). Michigan lost Botterman, Sarah Curtis, Kari Pearce, Jordan Sexton and Trish Wilson to graduation after last season.
Headlining the returning Wolverines are juniors Katie Zurales, Natalie Beilstein and Brittnee Martinez, as well as sophomores Joanna Sampson and Reema Zakharia. Sampson is the 2011 NCAA Regional vault champion and Big Ten runner-up on floor, Zakharia (floor), Beilstein (vault) and Zurales (beam) each placed runner-up in events at regionals, and Martinez tied for sixth on bars at the NCAA Individual Event Finals.
There are two new faces on the 2012 roster in freshmen Annette Miele and Sachi Sugiyama. Miele is a native of Easton, Pa., and trained with Parkettes National Gymnastics Training Center. She was a member of the U.S. Junior National Team (2008-09), and was a three-time USA Visa Championships qualifier. Sugiyama is from Keller, Texas, and trained with Top Flight Gymnastics. She placed ninth on all-around at nationals in 2010.
Wolverines in Waiting
The Wolverines signed Austin Sheppard (Dallas, Texas/Plano East) and Morgan Smith (Clermont, Fla./East Ridge) to National Letters of Intent back on Nov. 14. Both Sheppard and Smith have competed in numerous international competitions; Sheppard as part of the Hungarian National Team, and Smith, who has been a U.S. National Team member since 2008. Both will be on the roster starting next season. [ Release ]
Against The Best
Michigan is rated to have the ninth-toughest slate by CollegeGymFans.com in 2012. The Wolverines will face four preseason top-10 teams this season, including Nebraska at the Master Classic on Feb. 11, Utah on Feb. 17, Oklahoma on Oct. 24 and Georgia on March 9. [ Release ]
The All-Around is the official audio podcast of the University of Michigan women's gymnastics team. Look for new episodes on MGoBlue.com every Tuesday. [ Episode 1 ]
Tickets for the 2012 U-M women's gymnastics season are now on sale. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 866-296-MTIX (6849).
Crisler Center Construction Update
Fans attending any of Michigan's home meets this season should be aware of the ongoing renovations made to the Crisler Center. [ Renovation Information ]
Saturday, Jan. 21 -- at Minnesota (Minneapolis, Minn.), 6 p.m. CST
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423