Week #3: U-M to Seek Perfect January against No. 14 Illinois
Sachi Sugiyama

Jan. 23, 2012

Shelby Gies Interview | Coach Plocki Interview
The All-Around with Stephanie Colbert | Coach Plocki on WTKA

Friday, Jan. 27 -- vs. No. 14 Illinois (Crisler Center), 6 p.m.
BUY TICKETS | Live Video (fee) | Live Results | Promotions: Girl Scout Day, Trading Card Giveaway, Autographs

The No. 19-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (2-0, 2-0 Big Ten) aims to stay perfect this weekend, as it hosts No. 14 Illinois (1-0-1, 1-0-1 Big Ten) for a Big Ten dual meet on Friday (Jan. 27) at 6 p.m. inside Crisler Center.


Last Time Out
Michigan overcame its fair share of adversity in its first road contest of the season last Saturday (Jan. 21) but came out with a close victory, defeating No. 24 Minnesota, 193.150-193.000, in Minneapolis. Freshman Sachi Sugiyama won the all-around (39.050), but win was soured after losing star junior Natalie Beilstein to injury. [ Recap ] [ Sachi Sugiyama Interview (Facebook) ] [ Michigan Daily ]

Sugiyama Shines
Freshman Sachi Sugiyama competed as an all-arounder for the first time in her collegiate career (and in her second collegiate meet), winning the title at Minnesota with a score of 39.050. Sugiyama tied for first on vault (9.850) and bars (9.800), and tied for second on floor (9.800).

Opponent Preview
The Fighting Illini are 1-0-1 on the season, and are coming off a rare tie against Iowa last Saturday, as both teams earned 195.075 scores. They are led by senior Kelsey Joannides, who captured the all-around title (39.175) and three individual event crowns against Iowa.

Good History
Michigan is 42-9-1 all-time against Illinois, winning each of the last 33 meetings dating back to Jan. 27, 1991. Illinois and Michigan met three times last season; first as part of the Michigan Tri on Jan. 14, 2011 (with Penn State), which Michigan took first in. The Wolverines also finished ahead of Illinois at the 2011 Big Ten Championships, and at the afternoon session of the NCAA Semifinals.

Home Cooking!
Three of Michigan's next four meets will be held at the Crisler Center, beginning with this Friday's dual against Illinois. The Wolverines welcome in West Virginia next Friday (Feb. 3) and Utah on Feb. 17.

Podium Toppers
Michigan is a perfect 2-0 in dual meets on the early season, and has done well on the podium. The Wolverines won all four events against Ohio State in the season opener on Jan. 13, including Joanna Sampson (vault), Brittnee Martinez (uneven bars), Katie Zurales (balance beam) and floor exercise (Natalie Beilstein), in addition to Zurales winning the all-around. Michigan got another three last Saturday against Minnesota, including Sampson and Sachi Sugiyama (vault - tie), Sugiyama and Beilstein (bars), and Zurales (beam), in addition to Sugiyama's win in the all-around.

Rankings Blitz!
Michigan slipped eight spots to No. 19 (194.325) in the most-recent NCAA Women's Gymnastics Rankings, released Monday (Jan. 23). A team's ranking is determined by a team's scoring average. [ Rankings ]

Team Average 196.775, Arkansas/UCLA 194.325 (19)
Vault 49.542, UCLA 49.188 (8)
Uneven Bars 49.308, Arkansas 48.638 (21)
Balance Beam 49.138, Utah 48.212 (NR)
Floor Exercise 49.350, Nebraska 48.350 (NR)
All-Around 39.500, Janelle Giblin, Nebraska 38.938, Katie Zurales (NR)
Vault 9.950, Ashley Sledge, Alabama 9.875, Joanna Sampson (T-19)
Uneven Bars 9.925, Morgan Evans, North Carolina 9.800, Sachi Sugiyama (NR)
Balance Beam 9.913, Leslie Mak, Oregon State 9.850, Katie Zurales (T-11)
Floor Exercise 9.938, Georgia Dabritz (Utah) 9.813, Joanna Sampson & Reema Zakharia (NR)

Wolverine to Watch
Get to know sophomore tri-captain Shelby Gies in the "Wolverines To Watch" section of the brand new "M Magazine".
[ Link ]


Among The Big Ten's Best
The Wolverines, fresh off winning their fifth straight Big Ten championship last year, were picked to finish runner-up 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 ]

2011 Recap
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.

Returning Wolverines
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.

New Faces
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.

Following You, Captain!
Junior Katie Zurales and sophomores Teresa Arthur and Shelby Gies have been named team captains for the 2012 season. There are no seniors on the roster this season.

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 ]


Social Media: Twitter (@umichwgym) | Facebook (Michigan Gymnastics)

The All-Around
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 sophomore Stephanie Colbert. [ 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 ]

Saturday, Feb. 3 -- vs. West Virginia (Crisler Center), 6 p.m.

Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423

»  Learn about 2017 Michigan women's gymnastics ticket opportunities.