This Week in Michigan Women's Gymnastics #2

Jan. 13, 2014

The All-Around audio

Friday, Jan. 17
-- at N.C. State, vs. North Carolina, vs. Towson (Raleigh, N.C.), 7 p.m.
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The No. 8-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (2-0) is on the road again this week, traveling to Raleigh, N.C., on Friday (Jan. 17) to take on North Carolina State (0-1), North Carolina (1-0) and Towson (0-1) in a quad meet. The competition will begin at 7 p.m. inside Reynolds Coliseum.

Michigan fell one spot to No. 8 in this week's GymInfo/Troester rankings (196.525). The Wolverines were ranked No. 7 in the preseason poll. The top three teams in this week's rankings all surpassed 197.000: No. 1 Oklahoma (197.700), No. 2 LSU (197.200) and No. 3 Alabama (197.150).

On the apparatuses, Michigan is tied for fourth on floor exercise (49.375), seventh on vault (49.200) and 11th on balance beam (48.900) and tied for 12th on uneven bars (49.050). Individually, Joanna Sampson is one of five U-M gymnasts in the individual national rankings, tying for ninth in the all-around (39.325).

The rankings, which are determined by season scoring average, are released every Monday. The rankings will switch over to Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) on Monday, Feb. 24. The top 36 teams in the rankings will advance to one of six regional sites on Saturday, April 5 (at Minnesota, Georgia, Washington, LSU, Arkansas and Penn State), with 18 of those teams receiving a seed that is determined by RQS. A team's RQS is calculated by taking its six highest scores, three of which must be from road meets. The highest score is dropped and the remaining five are averaged.
[ Rankings: Team | Individuals ]

Team Average 197.700, Oklahoma 196.525 (8)
Vault 49.475, Oklahoma 49.200 (7)
Uneven Bars 49.475, Alabama 49.050 (T-12)
Balance Beam 49.375, Oklahoma 48.900 (11)
Floor Exercise 49.500, Oklahoma 49.375 (T-4)

All-Around 39.600, Rheagan Courville, LSU 39.325, Joanna Sampson (T-9)
Vault 9.975, Olivia Courtney, UCLA 9.900, Austin Sheppard (T-7)
9.875, Joanna Sampson (T-18)
Uneven Bars 9.950, Tory Wilson and Georgia Dabritz, Utah 9.900, Natalie Beilstein (T-10)
9.875, Shelby Gies (T-17)
Balance Beam Seven tied at 9.925 ---
Floor Exercise 9.975, Lindsay Mable, Minnesota 9.925, Joanna Sampson (T-6)
9.900, Nicole Artz (T-9)

• In the all-time series, U-M is 5-0 against North Carolina State, 3-0 against North Carolina and 2-1 against Towson. The Wolverines last met North Carolina State in the 2010 NCAA Regionals in Morgantown, W.Va. This Friday's competition will be their first-ever meet in Raleigh. Michigan also faced North Carolina and Towson last season, winning both encounters (North Carolina at NCAA Regionals in Morgantown, W.Va. and Towson as part of the West Virginia Quad, also in Morgantown).

• Fifth-year senior Natalie Beilstein and freshman Nicole Artz were named Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week and Big Ten Freshman of the Week, respectively, the conference office announced on Monday (Jan. 13). [ Release ]

• Freshman Nicole Artz and Talia Chiarelli each made their collegiate debuts last Friday (Jan. 10) at Iowa State. Artz tied for first on balance beam (9.825) and finished second on floor (9.900), while Chiarelli tied for third on balance beam (9.775) and tied for fourth on floor exercise (9.850). In addition, junior Brooke Parker made her Michigan debut, leading off the vault rotation and scoring a 9.725.

• Michigan recorded its second-highest score in a season-opening meet last Friday (Jan. 10), scoring 196.525 to win the tri-meet against Iowa State and Illinois State in Ames, Iowa. The program record for highest score in a season opener came at the 2013 Cancun Classic (196.575).

• Senior Joanna Sampson surpassed 39.000 in the all-around for the 21st time in her career last Friday at Iowa State, tying her with Tatjana Thuener-Rego (2005-09) for 10th on the school's all-time list. It gave the senior her 13th career all-around title. She also collected her second career balance beam title, giving her 36 individual event titles for her career.

• Six of the team's last nine season openers have come on the road. The last time Michigan started the season on the road in back-to-back meets was 2009 (at Cancun Classic, at Michigan State Quad).

• The Wolverines scored 49.375 on floor exercise at Iowa State, slightly above last season's overall season scoring average (49.367). Last season, Michigan averaged 197.033 for its overall score.


Bev Plocki
Head Coach

Q: The first meet is in the books. Looking back, how do you feel the team handled it, especially being away from Ann Arbor for the first time as a group?
A: I think they handled it very well. We talked a lot about trying to keep it light and have fun and not think it so much as a pressure situation. Just relax, compete and have fun. I thought they did a good job of that. Iowa State ran a good meet. The venue and equipment were pretty good. They handled it well.

Q: Expanding on that, one of the main things you told the team prior to the trip was to stay within themselves. Did you see that?
A: Absolutely. We didn't have an "injury", but Annette from time to time has had issues with her leg and shooting pains from her back. When she experienced that on bars, we had to make a change pretty quickly. To have the depth to make those kinds of changes is a very nice luxury to have. We didn't want to push anything and create a situation. The response from the team when we were making changes on the fly was fantastic. Sometimes that can create issues for people, but we prepared for that going in.

Q: After one week, you're pretty much on par with last season's start in terms of scoring (196.575 in 2013 to 196.525 in 2014). That's the second-highest score for an opening meet in program history. You preached the importance of getting off to a faster, stronger start last year and now here you are doing it again.
A: I don't think you can compare the two. They were two totally different meets with different judging panels. The score doesn't make that big of a difference to me. I felt that we performed equally well, if not better, actually, in this first meet than we did last year.

Q: Looking ahead to this weekend's meet at North Carolina State, what improvements do you think can be made in the short term?
A: Every athlete can point to several things; not big, noticeable errors, but small things that come as a result of trying a little bit harder or rushing a little more -- a missed handstand, a step on a dismount, a repeated flight series on balance beam. They can take up a half-a-tenth or quarter-of-a-tenth here and there. At the same time, they know if they compete the same way they do in practice, they'll be able to add a little bit more to their score.

Q: Talk about the three newcomers. Nicole and Talia were in the first two spots on balance beam but they looked very comfortable up there. Was that a strategic decision to place them there? And also talk about Brooke getting inserted into the vault lineup in the last minute and how she handled it?
A: Every athlete's comfort level is a little different. From day one, Nicole has wanted to go up first and get it over with. She does not want to be in a situation where she's watching other people. That makes her nervous. I think she's got a great attitude. A lot of athletes don't like to go first, but we embrace that. She's been rock solid, so we're happy to give her that role if that is where she is comfortable. Talia has the competitive experience where I think she's comfortable no matter where she is in the lineup. And Brooke did great, as well. What is hard about this time of year, when you have so many Friday meets and you're traveling the day before, you only get three days to train. Last Friday in warm-ups when there was an open event, we had Briley, Brooke and Lindsay get some training in and it paid off. Sometimes, with these athletes, it depends on who is better that day. We warmed up Talia on vault because we always warm up an alternate, but we realized that Brooke was a little more on. She just warmed up at a different time. It was easy for us. We made the switch and she did great.

Michigan defeated Iowa State and Illinois State in a tri-meet last Friday (Jan. 10) in Ames, Iowa, scoring 196.525 as a team. [ Recap ]

Saturday, Jan. 25
-- vs. Ohio State (Crisler Center), 4 p.m. [ Tickets ]

The All-Around (Tuesday)

Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423

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