Week #6: Wolverines to Welcome Top-Ranked Utah for Friday Meet
MGOBLUE Katie Zurales
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Katie Zurales
MGOBLUE

Feb. 13, 2012

The All-Around with Joanna Sampson | Katie Zurales Interview
• Coach Plocki Interviews: MGoBlue.com | WTKA Insider (Feb. 16)
AnnArbor.com Preview

THIS WEEK
Friday, Feb. 17 -- vs. No. 1 Utah (Crisler Center), 6 p.m.
BUY TICKETS | Live Video (fee) | Live Results | Faculty/Staff Night, $40 Family Four Pack

Fresh off a season-high score last weekend, the No. 21-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) aims to build even more momentum when it squares off against top-ranked Utah (4-1, 1-1 Pac-12) this Friday (Feb. 17) at 6 p.m. inside Crisler Center.

Meet Change
Due to scheduled renovations at Crisler Center, the Georgia meet on March 9 has been moved to the EMU Convocation Center in nearby Ypsilanti, Mich., and start at 7 p.m. More details will be released at a later time.

The Rankings
The Wolverines moved up one spot to No. 21 in this week's GymInfo Top 25 rankings, released Monday (Feb. 13). A team's ranking is determined by its scoring average.
[ Rankings ]

  NCAA LEADER MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)
Team Average 196.855, Utah 194.670 (21)
Vault 49.413, UCLA 49.140 (11)
Uneven Bars 49.283, Florida 48.795 (15)
Balance Beam 49.220, Utah 48.220 (NR)
Floor Exercise 49.225, Utah 48.515 (NR)
  NCAA LEADER MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)
All-Around 39.550, Ashley Priess, Alabama 39.020, Joanna Sampson (NR)
Vault 9.935, Vanessa Zamarripa, UCLA 9.860, Sachi Sugiyama (NR)
Uneven Bars 9.890, Leslie Mak, Oregon State 9.810, Sachi Sugiyama (NR)
Balance Beam 9.913, Sharaya Musser, Penn State 9.710, Brittnee Martinez (NR)
Floor Exercise 9.925, Jaime Pisani, Arkansas 9.840, Reema Zakharia (NR)

WEEKLY RUNDOWN

Opponent Preview
Utah enters this Friday's meet as the nation's top-ranked team, coming in with an average meet score of 196.855 (highest score is 197.550). The Utes are 4-1 this season, claiming wins over Utah State, BYU, Georgia, and most recently Arizona State (won 196.150-194.000 on Sunday), with their only loss coming to UCLA back on Jan. 8. Utah is also No. 1 on both balance beam (49.220) and floor exercise (49.225), fourth on vault (49.305), and seventh on uneven bars (49.105).

Familiar Foe
Michigan and Utah have been common foes in recent years, alternating a home-and-home series. The series has been fairly even, but Utah holds a 6-4 edge over Michigan in the last 10 regular-season meetings. Overall, Michigan is 11-23 all-time against Utah.

Here are the results of the last 10 regular-season meetings between Michigan and Utah:

Date W/L, Score Location Utah Rank
Feb. 18, 2011 L, 196.425-195.425 Salt Lake City 3
Feb. 19, 2010 W, 195.725-195.100 ANN ARBOR 5
Feb. 20, 2009 L, 197.525-195.350 Salt Lake City 1
March 22, 2008 L, 197.425-196.325 ANN ARBOR 3
Feb. 23, 2007 L, 196.225-193.800 Salt Lake City 5
Feb. 11, 2006 L, 196.400-196.100 ANN ARBOR 2
Jan. 28, 2005 L, 196.875-196.525 Salt Lake City 2
Feb. 14, 2004 W, 196.725-196.350 ANN ARBOR 4
Feb. 28, 2003 W, 196.750-195.875 Salt Lake City 5
Feb. 22, 2002 W, 197.025-196.175 ANN ARBOR 2

Against No. 1
Michigan has faced a No. 1-ranked team seven times during the regular season dating back to 2001. The team's lone win in that stretch came during the 2008 season against Georgia. In those meetings, Michigan has averaged a 196.557 team score.:

Date Team W/L, Score Location
March 19, 2010 Alabama L, 197.575-196.875 Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Feb. 20, 2009 Utah L, 197.525-195.350 Salt Lake City, Utah
March 7, 2008 Georgia W, 197.600-196.950 ANN ARBOR
March 11, 2006 Georgia L, 197.625-197.100 ANN ARBOR
March 7, 2004 UCLA L, 198.325-195.725 Los Angeles, Calif.
March 7, 2003 UCLA L, 197.250-196.775 ANN ARBOR
March 9, 2001 UCLA L, 197.700-197.125 ANN ARBOR

Protecting Home
U-M is undefeated at Crisler Center so far this season (3-0). Additionally, Michigan won all three of those meets against ranked teams (No. 18 Ohio State, No. 14 Illinois, No. 20 West Virginia), and won despite trailing heading into the last rotation in each meet.

Last Time Out
The Wolverines finished second at the four-team Masters Classic last Saturday (Feb. 11) in Lincoln, Neb., but achieved a season-high score of 195.825. Michigan also closed the meet out strong, scoring a season-high 48.975 on balance beam, including an event win from junior Katie Zurales, who scored a 9.900. [ Recap ] [ Michigan Daily ] [ Postmeet Interview: Brittnee Martinez (Facebook) ]

Building Momentum
The Wolverines have improved on their team score in each of the last three meets. Since scoring a 193.150 against Minnesota on Jan. 21, the team scored 194.225 the next week against Illinois (Jan. 27), 194.650 against West Virginia (Feb. 3) before going 195.825 at the Masters Classic. [ Meet-by-Meet Scores ]

Sampson a Rising Star
Sophomore Joanna Sampson has competed as an all-arounder in each meet, scoring 39.225 or higher in each of the last three meets, including a win against West Virginia with a career-high 39.300. Sampson has scored above 9.775 on 18 of her 20 routines in competition this season.

Miele, Zakharia Stepping Up
Freshman Annette Miele and sophomore Reema Zakharia have taken on additional roles in recent weeks. After competing on one event in two of the team's first three meets, Miele was on three events again at the Masters Classic, scoring a 9.825 on bars and 9.775 on floor. Zakharia, who holds the team's highest scoring average on floor, has competed on floor and beam in every meet but was also on vault at the Masters Classic, making it her first vault performance in a collegiate competition. She scored a 9.725.

Hot Starts
Michigan's performance on vault has contributed to its 6-1 start to the season. The Wolverines have scored above a 49.000 in every meet this season and rank 11th in the country on that apparatus.

A Break From The Road
Last Saturday's meet against Nebraska began a four-week stretch in which Michigan competes mostly on the road. After competing against Utah this Friday, Michigan travels back-to-back weeks to Oklahoma (Feb. 24) and Penn State (March 2), before returning to Ann Arbor for home meets against Georgia (March 9) and Michigan State (March 16) to close out the regular season.

TEAM NOTES

Injury Update
Junior Natalie Beilstein and sophomore Kristin Nagle will each miss the remainder of the 2012 season. Beilstein suffered her injury while performing on floor at Minnesota on Jan. 21, while Nagle was injured against Illinois on Jan. 27, also on floor. Beilstein is a two-time NCAA All-American and also has Big Ten and NCAA Regional titles to her name (both in 2010). [ Brandon's Blog: Women's Gymnastics Facing Challenges ]

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 ]

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 ] [ Wolverines Add Williams To 2013 Recruiting Class ]

Against the Best
Michigan is rated to have the ninth-toughest slate by CollegeGymFans.com in 2012. The Wolverines faces 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 ]

RELATED LINKS

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 Joanna Sampson. [ iTunes ]

Tickets
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 ]

UP NEXT
Friday, Feb. 24 -- at Oklahoma (Norman, Okla.), 7 p.m. CST

Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423

   

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