Feb. 24, 2014
After spending the last three weeks on the road, the No. 8-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (10-2, 4-0 Big Ten) competes at home for the first time in nearly a month, hosting No. 23 Kent State (8-1) and BYU (2-8) on Friday (Feb. 28) at Crisler Center. The meet will begin at 7 p.m.
The Wolverines are at No. 8 in this week's GymInfo/Troester rankings (196.595). The rankings switched from season scoring average to Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) on Monday (Feb. 24). The RQS ranks teams and seeds them for NCAA Regionals, held April 5 at six different sites (Minnesota, Georgia, Washington, LSU, Arkansas, Penn State). 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. The top 18 teams in the nation based on RQS will receive a seed at Regionals.
The Wolverines' RQS can be calculated based on the following meets:
197.325 -- Jan. 25 vs. Ohio State (H)
2. 196.800 -- Jan. 17 at North Carolina State (A)
3. 196.800 -- Jan. 31 vs. Michigan State (H)
4. 196.650 -- Feb. 14 at Nebraska (A)
5. 196.525 -- Jan. 10 at Iowa State (A)
6. 196.200 -- Feb. 21 at Perfect 10 Challenge (A)
Michigan is seventh on uneven bars (49.185), eighth on both vault (49.280) and floor exercise (49.250) and 13th on balance beam (48.955). Three individuals are ranked, led by senior Joanna Sampson, who is tied for eighth nationally in the all-around (39.440) and is also 10th on floor exercise (9.915) and tied for 20th on vault (9.885). Sophomore Austin Sheppard (vault) and freshman Nicole Artz (floor exercise) are the others. [ Rankings: Team | Individuals ]
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|RQS||197.470, LSU||196.595 (8)|
|Vault||49.500, LSU||49.280 (8)|
|Uneven Bars||49.470, Georgia||49.185 (7)|
|Balance Beam||49.330, Florida||48.955 (13)|
|Floor Exercise||49.460, LSU||49.250 (8)|
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|All-Around||39.595, Rheagan Courville, LSU||39.440, Joanna Sampson (T-8)|
|Vault||9.940, Tory Wilson, Utah||9.890, Austin Sheppard (T-18)
9.885, Joanna Sampson (T-20)
|Uneven Bars||9.935, Sarie Morrison, LSU||--|
|Balance Beam||9.915, Jessie Jordan, LSU||--|
|Floor Exercise||9.945, Georgia Dabritz, Utah||9.915, Joanna Sampson (10)
9.875, Nicole Artz (T-19)
BYU is 2-8 on the season but has faced a difficult schedule that includes two matchups against Boise State, two matchups against Denver, Utah and Arizona State. The Cougars' high score of the season came back on Jan. 31 against Denver, scoring 196.425. They scored 195.375 in a recent outing against Southern Utah on Feb. 21. BYU is led by Makenzie Johnson, who averages 39.071 in the all-around. As a team, the Cougars average 194.764, including 48.946 on VT, 48.711 on UB, 48.361 on BB and 48.704 on FX.
Series: Michigan is 8-1 all-time against BYU. The two teams last met at the 2013 Cancun Classic (Jan. 4, 2013), with U-M winning, 196.575-194.475. It is the Cougars' first trip to Ann Arbor since Feb. 22, 1993.
Kent State is 8-1 on the season and comes in at No. 23 in this weekend's rankings. The Golden Flashes are averaging 195.075 for the season but are averaging 195.633 over the last three outings. They are led on the floor by Marie Case, who has surpassed 39.300 in the all-around in each of the last three meets, including a score of 39.475 on Feb. 16 at Central Michigan. Kent State is averaging 48.804 on VT, 48.761 on UB, 48.543 on BB and 48.968 on FX.
Series: Michigan is 13-5 all-time against Kent State. The two teams last met at the 2011 Ann Arbor Regional at Crisler Center, with U-M winning, 197.075-195.450. The last time the two teams met in the regular season was Jan. 29, 2011 (U-M won 195.875-194.675).
The Wolverines are hosting a tri-meet for the first time since Feb. 13, 2011, vs. Nebraska and Stanford. U-M's last three home meets all feature multiple teams (vs. Utah/UCLA on March 7, vs. Penn State/Minnesota/Iowa on March 15).
Michigan will be at home for only the third time this season and for the first time in nearly a month (last home meet was Jan. 31 vs. Michigan State). Five of the team's first seven meets were on the road. In two home meets, U-M has averaged 197.062. The Wolverines have won eight consecutive regular-season home meets.
The Wolverines took third at the Perfect 10 Challenge, making it the first time in the last 13 regular-season meets that they did not win the meet or take first. In 18 regular-season meets since the start of the 2013 season, Michigan is 27-3 and is averaging 196.882 (197.035 at home, 196.729 on the road).
Michigan scored 49.450 on vault at the Perfect 10 Challenge, its highest score on that apparatus this season, surpassing its previous high of 49.300, achieved both on Jan. 25 against Ohio State and Jan. 31 vs. Michigan State. The Wolverines also had its second-highest total on uneven bars at that meet, scoring 49.
Senior Joanna Sampson has scored 39.000 or higher in 27 career meets in the all-around, the ninth-best mark in program history. She needs to accomplish the feat three more times to tie Calli Ryals (2001-04) for eighth on the list. Sarah Curtis (2007-11) and Elise Ray (2001-05) are the program leaders with 40. Sampson also has won 47 career individual event titles.
Fifth-year senior Natalie Beilstein had a strong meet at the Perfect 10 Challenge, tying for second on both vault (9.950) and uneven bars (9.875). Her vault score tied her career high. Beilstein has scored at least 9.800 in 15 of her 17 routines across vault, uneven bars and floor exercise this season.
Through four meets, Michigan has scored above 49.000 in 21 of 28 rotations, while gymnasts have won 22 of 28 individual event titles. Additionally, nearly half of Michigan's routines this year -- 78 of 168 (46 percent) -- have come from its senior class (Joanna Sampson, Natalie Beilstein, Shelby Gies, Reema Zakharia).
The win over West Virginia at the Perfect 10 Challenge ensured Michigan of its 24th consecutive season with double-digit wins, a streak that began in 1991.
Q: Talk about the Perfect 10 Challenge from last Friday. Not the overall score you wanted, but there were some very strong performances, particularly on the last three events (floor exercise, vault, uneven bars).
A: I am very happy with the way we came back and performed on vault, uneven bars and floor, but if we want to be the team we want to be, we can't have one event that holds us back from getting there. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed with the overall result. We have to figure out what we have to do to put a full meet together.
Q: One of the strong performers from that meet was Natalie Beilstein. She's looked very good in the last few meets. You mentioned it after the last meet, but that's what you expect out of a fifth-year senior.
A: This is what I've been expecting of her all season long. We finally saw the Natalie that we expected to see coming into her fifth season. I hope it's a spark, especially in vaulting. She's been doing a very good job on all of those events, but especially there. It was the first time she stuck her landing and you see the difference. She's been in the 9.800s and then she scores a 9.950 with a stuck landing. You see how critical those landings are and why taking that one step is such a big deal.
Q: And one of the things you've commented that you like most about this team is their toughness and ability to stay focused no matter what's going on, whether it's the scoring, whether there's a fall or whether it's something else entirely. Over these last couple of weeks, how do you think they've handled it?
A: We went on a three-week road series. That gets tiring. The other thing that's been hard for us is that almost all of our meets have been Friday nights, which is uncharacteristic. We've only been able to train three days every single week. That's very hard.
Q: What will the primary focus be in practice this week?
A: To be honest, the focus is the focus. We focus on the things we need to focus on every single week. There aren't really big changes. We're always focusing on landings. We talk about things a little bit more at times. This week, we'll talk about being mentally tough throughout the whole meet, not just when we messed something up. Let's start off with a bang, go all the way through and finish. If we want to be in the Super Six this year, we have to put all of these next meets together. You're only able to count three home scores in your RQS and we only have one more road meet left, which is why these last three weeks on the road were disappointing. We needed to get some good scores and we didn't perform well enough to get them. These next few meets need to be good ones and we need to have a good meet at the Big Ten Championships, because that's the only other away opportunity we have left to improve our RQS heading into Regionals.
Q: You're entering the portion of the schedule where you get to be at home for three consecutive weeks. After being on the road for five of the first seven, how excited is the team to finally be back in their own gym for an extended stretch?
A: We're thrilled to be able to sleep in our own beds, not eat our meals in restaurants and not be on buses and planes. Hopefully they'll get back in their normal groove and we'll be able to settle down a little bit.
LAST TIME OUT
The Wolverines closed out their three-meet road trip with a third-place finish at the Perfect 10 Challenge last Friday (Feb. 21) in Oklahoma City, Okla. [ Recap ]
Friday, March 7 -- vs. UCLA, Utah (Crisler Center), 7 p.m.
OTHER RELATED LINKS
The All-Around (Tuesday)
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423