Week #8: Tri-Meet at Penn State On Tap for Maize & Blue
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Feb. 27, 2012

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THIS WEEK
Friday, March 2 -- at No. 11 Penn State, North Carolina (State College, Pa.), 7 p.m.
Live Results | Live Video (Fee)

Fresh off its best performance of the season, the No. 23-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (7-3, 3-1 Big Ten) looks to go even better when it takes on No. 11 Penn State (10-3) and North Carolina (9-1) in a tri-meet on Friday (March 2) at Rec Hall in State College, Pa. The meet will begin at 7 p.m.

Meet Changes
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. Additionally, the Wolverines' meet on March 16 with Michigan State will be held inside Cliff Keen Arena and also will start at 7 p.m. The Michigan State meet will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. [ Meet Information ] [ BUY TICKETS ]

The Rankings
The Wolverines dropped two spots to No. 23 in this week's GymInfo Top 25 rankings, released Monday (Feb. 27). This is the first week that a team's ranking is determined by its RQS (regional qualifying score).

Qualification for regional competition is based on a team's and an all-around competitor's six best regular-season-meet scores, of which three must be away. To obtain the regional qualifying score (RQS), the high score is eliminated and the remaining five scores are averaged.

The Wolverines' RQS for this week is based on its results from the following meets:

  1. 196.300 - at Oklahoma/TWU (Feb. 24)
  2. 195.825 - at Masters Classic (Feb. 11)
  3. 195.500 - vs. Ohio State (Jan. 13)
  4. 194.850 - vs. Utah (Feb. 17)
  5. 194.650 - vs. West Virginia (Feb. 3)
  6. 193.150 - at Minnesota (Jan. 21)

Michigan can improve on its RQS (and team ranking) with a good team score at Penn State this Friday. That will allow it to drop its 193.150 from the Minnesota meet on Jan. 21, which is being counted now because Michigan has only had three road meets this season, and teams must count three road scores in their RQS. [ Rankings ]

  NCAA LEADER MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)
Team Average 197.195, Florida 194.795 (23)
Vault 49.450, UCLA 49.150 (10)
Uneven Bars 49.335, Florida 48.795 (20)
Balance Beam 49.335, Oklahoma 48.290 (NR)
Floor Exercise 49.305, Oklahoma 48.585 (NR)
NCAA LEADER MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)
All-Around 39.500, Katherine Grable, Arkansas 39.140, Joanna Sampson (23)
Vault 9.930, Sara Stone, Oklahoma 9.865, Sachi Sugiyama (T-25)
Uneven Bars 9.905, Kat Ding, Georgia 9.810, Sachi Sugiyama (NR)
Balance Beam 9.920, Megan Ferguson, Oklahoma 9.755, Joanna Sampson (NR)
Floor Exercise 9.930, Jaime Pisani, Arkansas 9.835, Reema Zakharia (NR)

WEEKLY RUNDOWN

Sugiyama Honored
Following her second-place all-around finish at the Oklahoma tri-meet last Friday (Feb. 24), freshman Sachi Sugiyama was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week on Monday (Feb. 27). She scored 39.250 in the all-around, a new career best by two-tenths of a point, and also scored top-five finishes on vault (third, 9.900) and floor exercise (tie-fourth, 9.850).
[ Release ]

Countdown to 600
Head coach Bev Plocki is nearing the 600-win milestone. With the Wolverines at 7-3 so far this season, her current win-loss record stands at 578-205-2.

Keystone State Natives
There are four Pennsylvania natives on Michigan's roster this season: head coach Bev Plocki (Butler), junior Natalie Beilstein (Butler), sophomore Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove) and freshman Annette Miele (Easton).

Opponent Preview
Penn State is 10-3 on the season and is coming off a 196.025-195.000 loss last Saturday (Feb. 25) at Ohio State. Penn State is ranked No. 11 in the nation (RQS - 195.950, AVG - 195.859), and additionally ranks seventh on balance beam, 10th on floor exercise, 14th on vault and 15th on uneven bars. The Nittany Lions also have one of the nation's best all-arounders in Sharaya Musser, who ranks third nationally (39.347 average).

North Carolina is 9-1 on the season. The Tar Heels have won three straight meets, including scoring a season-best 195.725 last Friday against George Washington.

History
Michigan is 30-5 all-time against Penn State, including two wins last year against the Nittany Lions. The Wolverines won the head-to-head meeting on Jan. 14, 2011 (in a tri-meet with Illinois), and again at the 2011 Big Ten Championships.

U-M and North Carolina have only met once in the regular season, with Michigan finishing higher at the 2009 Cancun Classic. That meet, which also featured LSU and Boise State, had Michigan finish third (192.700) and North Carolina finish fourth (190.325).

Last Time Out
Michigan finished second last Friday (Feb. 24) at the Oklahoma tri-meet in Norman, Okla., but picked up its best score of the season (196.300). Sophomore Joanna Sampson and freshman Sachi Sugiyama finished 1-2 in the all-around, respectively, with each recording new career bests (39.375 for Sampson, 39.250 for Sugiyama). [ Recap ] [ Postmeet Interview: Joanna Sampson (Facebook) ] [ Michigan Daily ]

Sampson a Rising Star
Sophomore Joanna Sampson was the Wolverines' best competitor at the Oklahoma tri-meet last Friday, winning the all-around with a career-best score of 39.375. She tied for the vault title (9.950, a new career high), tied for fourth on floor exercise (9.850) and also scored 9.800 on uneven bars and 9.775 on balance beam.

She has won three all-around titles this month, the others coming against then-No. 1 Utah on Feb. 17 and West Virginia on Feb. 3. Additionally, Sampson has scored above 9.800 in 19 of her 28 routines (68 percent) this season.

Freshmen Factoid
In addition to Sachi Sugiyama finishing second, fellow freshman Annette Miele was also an all-around competitor for the first time in her collegiate career against Oklahoma/TWU. Miele finished fifth (38.675), scoring 9.800s on uneven bars and floor exercise, 9.625 on vault and 9.450 on balance beam.

Floor General
Sophomore Reema Zakharia returned to the floor lineup against Oklahoma/TWU, scoring a 9.875 and tying for second place. Despite not competing on floor against Utah on Feb. 17, Zakharia has been the Wolverines' most consistent performer on the event, averaging 9.846 this season, tying for the event title twice (Illinois, West Virginia) and tying for second twice (Oklahoma/TWU, Ohio State).

Podium Toppers
Michigan gymnasts have won or tied for 18 of 28 event titles so far this season (64 percent). Additionally, the Wolverines have had three different gymnasts win at least one all-around title; Joanna Sampson has won it three times (West Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma/TWU), and Sachi Sugiyama (Minnesota) and Katie Zurales (Ohio State) have each won it once.

Vaulting Ahead
Michigan's strongest event all season has been vault and it has cemented itself among the nation's best after scoring a season-best 49.400 to close the Oklahoma/TWU meet. Three gymnasts scored above 9.000 -- Joanna Sampson (9.950), Katie Zurales (9.900), and Sachi Sugiyama (9.900). The Wolverines are ranked No. 10 in the nation on vault and rank second in the Big Ten behind Nebraska.

Road Warriors
The Wolverines' two best scores of the season have come away from Ann Arbor. The team scored 195.825 at the Masters Classic on Feb. 11 and a season-best 196.300 last Friday (Feb. 24) at the Oklahoma tri-meet.  Its best home score of the season came was 195.500, which was achieved in the season-opening meet on Jan. 13 against Ohio State.

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 Feb. 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 junior Natalie Beilstein. [ 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).

UP NEXT
Friday, March 9 -- vs. Georgia (at EMU Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich.), 7 p.m.

Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423