Jan. 16, 2012
The No. 11-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) ventures away from Ann Arbor for the first time on the young season this weekend, as it faces No. 24 Minnesota (0-2, 0-2 Big Ten) on Saturday (Jan. 21) at 6 p.m. CST inside the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis, Minn. U-M is 6-0 against the Gophers this century.
The Golden Gophers are 0-2 on the season after dual-meet losses to Ohio State (195.375-195.075) and Illinois (194.725-192.800) to start the season. Minnesota is led by Dusti Russell, who won the all-around in the Golden Gophers' first two meets of the season. They are ranked No. 24, down two spots from their initial No. 22 standing in the preseason coaches poll.
Last Time Out
The Wolverines opened the 2012 season in spectacular fashion, rallying to defeat No. 18 Ohio State, 195.500-195.175, last Friday (Jan. 13) inside Crisler Center. Michigan trailed heading into the fourth rotation but scored a 49.225 on floor to seal the win over its archrival. Four different Wolverines won event titles, including Joanna Sampson (vault), Brittnee Martinez (bars), Katie Zurales (beam) and Natalie Beilstein (floor). [ Recap ] [ Photo Gallery ] [ Katie Zurales Interview (Facebook) ] [ Michigan Daily ] [ Sugiyama Shines (Daily) ]
Michigan was at its best on vault and floor against the Buckeyes last Friday. As a team, the Wolverines scored a 49.300 on vault, and bookended the meet with a 49.225 score on floor, their highest floor score in a season-opening meet in nine seasons. Additionally, Michigan occupied the top four spots on both bars (Martinez won, while Beilstein, Sampson and Sachi Sugiyama all tied for second) and on floor (Beilstein won, Reema Zakharia was second, Zurales and Sampson tied for third).
"All Around" The Gym
Katie Zurales and Joanna Sampson competed as all-arounders against Ohio State, both for the first time in their collegiate careers. Zurales claimed the top spot with a 39.300 score, while Sampson was third with a 38.650 score.
Michigan's two freshmen -- Sachi Sugiyama and Annette Miele -- each made their collegiate debuts against Ohio State. Sugiyama competed on all four events (exhibitioned on beam), tying for second on both vault (9.875) and bars (9.800), and also competing on floor (9.650). Miele scored a 9.450 on beam.
Michigan checks in at No. 11 (195.500) in the most-recent NCAA Women's Gymnastics Rankings, down one spot from its spot in the preseason poll. A team's ranking is determined by a team's scoring average. Other Big Ten teams in the poll include Nebraska (No. 1, 197.375), Penn State (No. 9, 195.950), Ohio State (No. 12, 195.275), Illinois (No. 15, 194.725) and Minnesota (No. 24, 193.398) [ Rankings ]
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|Team Average||197.375, Nebraska||195.500 (5)|
|Vault||49.563, UCLA||49.300 (5)|
|Uneven Bars||49.300, Nebraska||49.025 (8)|
|Balance Beam||49.350, Nebraska||47.950 (NR)|
|Floor Exercise||49.350, Nebraska||49.225 (4)|
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|All-Around||39.575, Jessie DeZiel (Nebraska)||39.300, Katie Zurales (T-12)|
|Vault||10.000, Geralen Stack-Eaton (Alabama)||9.900, Joanna Sampson (T-10)|
|9.875, Sachi Sugiyama (T-20)|
|Uneven Bars||9.925, Morgan Evans (North Carolina)||9.850, Brittnee Martinez (T-15)|
|Balance Beam||9.925, Emily Wong (Nebraska)||9.875, Katie Zurales (T-6)|
|Floor Exercise||9.975, Georgia Dabritz (Utah)||9.925, Natalie Beilstein (T-2)|
|9.875, Reema Zakharia (T-13)|
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
On Jan. 11, the Wolverines announced the addition of Lindsay Williams (Northville, Mich./Northville) to its 2013 recruiting class. Williams is the third member of the class, joining prior signees Austin Sheppard (Dallas, Texas/Plano East) and Morgan Smith (Clermont, Fla./East Ridge). Williams trains with Splitz Gymnastics in Canton, Mich., and was the 2011 National Invitational Tournament all-around champion. [ Maize and Blue Sign Smith, Sheppard For 2013 Season (Nov. 14) ] [ Wolverines Add Williams To 2013 Recruiting Class (Jan. 11) ]
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, posted every Tuesday during the competition season to MGoBlue.com. This week's guest is freshman Sachi Sugiyama. [ iTunes ]
Tickets for the 2012 U-M women's gymnastics season are now on sale. To purchase season or individual meet tickets, go to MGoBlue.com/tickets or call 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. [ Construction Updates ]
Friday, Jan. 27 -- vs. Illinois (Crisler Center), 6 p.m.
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423