March 4, 2014
Friday, March 7 -- vs. No. 6 Utah, vs. No. 8 UCLA (Crisler Center), 7 p.m.
For the second time in three weeks, the No. 7-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (12-2) will square off against two top-10 teams in the same meet, as it welcomes a pair of Pac-12 opponents in No. 6 Utah (9-1) and No. 8 UCLA (6-2) on Friday (March 7) to Crisler Center. The meet will begin at 7 p.m.
It is also Senior Night. Following the meet, U-M will honor its six-member senior class that includes Teresa Arthur, Natalie Beilstein, Stephanie Colbert, Shelby Gies, Joanna Sampson and Reema Zakharia.
Fans can purchase tickets online for $1 by using the promo code WGYM14. To buy tickets, visit MGoBlue.com/tickets and enter the promo code. The promo code applies to online orders only. Tickets will be sold at the door at normal prices.
The Wolverines are at No. 7 in this week's GymInfo/Troester rankings (196.795). 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, set to be 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. 197.200 -- Feb. 28 vs. Kent State/BYU (H)
3. 196.800 -- Jan. 17 at North Carolina State (A)
4. 196.800 -- Jan. 31 vs. Michigan State (H)
5. 196.650 -- Feb. 14 at Nebraska (A)
6. 196.525 -- Jan. 10 at Iowa State (A)
Michigan is sixth on vault (49.325), tied for sixth on floor exercise (49.330), tied for eighth on uneven bars (49.225) and 14th on balance beam (48.985). Three individuals are ranked, led by senior Joanna Sampson, who is ninth in the all-around (39.440), tied for ninth on floor exercise (9.925) and 20th on vault (9.895). Sophomore Austin Sheppard is eighth on vault (9.915) and freshman Nicole Artz is tied for 16th on floor exercise (9.890). [ Rankings: Team | Individuals ]
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|RQS||197.605, LSU||196.785 (7)|
|Vault||49.530, LSU||49.325 (6)|
|Uneven Bars||49.500, Georgia||49.225 (T-8)|
|Balance Beam||49.355, Oklahoma||48.985 (14)|
|Floor Exercise||49.490, LSU||49.330 (T-6)|
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|All-Around||39.665, Bridget Sloan, Florida||39.440, Joanna Sampson (T-8)|
|Vault||9.940, Kailah Delaney, Utah
9.940, Tory Wilson, Utah
9.940, Bridget Sloan, Florida
|9.915, Austin Sheppard (8)
9.895, Joanna Sampson (20)
|Uneven Bars||9.940, Chelsea Davis, Georgia||--|
|Balance Beam||9.915, Jessie Jordan, LSU||--|
|Floor Exercise||9.955, Lloimincia Hall, LSU||9.925, Joanna Sampson (T-9)
9.890, Nicole Artz (T-16)
The Bruins are 6-2 on the season and are currently ranked No. 8 in the nation (196.740). They have improved their score in each of the last three weeks, peaking at 197.500 in last Saturday's (March 1) win over Arizona in Tucson; it is their highest score of the season to date. UCLA is led by senior Sam Peszek, a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team and 2011 NCAA champion on balance beam; Olivia Courtney, a two-time NCAA All-American in 2013; and sophomore Danusia Francis, an NCAA All-American on balance beam in 2013. In the rankings, Peszek is tied for 15th on uneven bars (9.880), Courtney is 11th nationally on vault (9.910) and 19th on uneven bars (9.875), and Francis is 10th on balance beam (9.880). Sydney Sawa is also tied for fifth on floor exercise (9.940). Former U.S. Olympian Jordyn Wieber, a team manager for UCLA and a native of DeWitt, Mich., is expected to make the trip this weekend with the Bruins.
Series: U-M is 10-26 all-time against UCLA. The two teams met twice last year, with U-M winning the regular-season meeting, 197.550-197.075, but finishing short in the preliminaries of the NCAA Championships, 197.200-196.850. Both meetings were in Los Angeles. Only 14 of the 36 meetings between the two teams have come in the regular season. Prior to last season's meeting in Los Angeles, the two teams did not meet in the regular season since Feb. 4, 2005, in Ann Arbor, where U-M won, 196.250-195.250.
The Utes are 9-1 on the season and are currently ranked No. 6 in the nation (197.015). This Friday's meet will be the Utes' fourth road trip of the season. They are 2-1 in road contests this season (only setback on Feb. 17 at Stanford), averaging 196.791, compared to 197.278 in five home meets. Utah is strong on three events, ranking second nationally on vault (49.495) and floor exercise (49.435) and third on uneven bars (49.355). Kailah Delaney and Tory Wilson are tied for No. 1 in the nation on vault (9.940), while Georgia Dabritz is second on floor exercise (9.950) and tied for third on uneven bars (9.930).
Series: U-M is 11-25 all-time against Utah. The two teams met in the preliminaries of the NCAA Championships last season, with U-M finishing ahead of Utah, 196.850-196.200. The two teams did not meet in the regular season last year but did every year from 2001-12. The Utes last visited Ann Arbor on Feb. 17, 2012, winning 196.050-194.850.
N O T E S
Nearly half of Michigan's routines this year -- 87 of 192 (45 percent) -- have come from its senior class (Joanna Sampson, Natalie Beilstein, Shelby Gies, Reema Zakharia). Together, this senior class has won two Big Ten titles (2011, 2013 - regular season), qualified for two NCAA Championships and reached one NCAA Super Six (2011).
Through eight meets, Michigan has scored above 49.000 in 25 of 32 rotations, while gymnasts have won 26 of 32 individual-event titles.
U-M enters Friday's tri-meet against Utah and UCLA with a record of 4-2 against ranked opponents this season, securing wins over No. 23 Ohio State (Jan. 25), No. 14 Illinois (Feb. 7), No. 7 Nebraska (Feb. 14), and No. 23 Kent State (Feb. 28). The Wolverines' two losses are to No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 5 Alabama (both on Feb. 21).
Sophomore Austin Sheppard was named Big Ten Event Specialist of the Week on Monday (March 3) for the third time this season. She won vault (9.975), tied for second on uneven bars (9.850) and debuted in the official lineup on balance beam (9.775) against Kent State and BYU last Friday (Feb. 28). [ Release ]
The Wolverines are averaging 197.108 in three home meets this season. They have won or finished first in nine consecutive regular-season meets inside Crisler Center. The last loss came on March 9, 2012, vs. Georgia, in a meet that was held at the EMU Convocation Center (due to renovations at Crisler Center). The team's last loss at Crisler Center came on Feb. 17, 2012, vs. Utah.
Senior Joanna Sampson has scored 39.000 or higher in 27 career meets, 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. She was not an all-arounder vs. Kent State/BYU, sitting out on uneven bars (rest). She is expected to be back on uneven bars this Friday vs. UCLA/Utah.
U-M has now scored 49.425 on vault in back-to-back weeks, a season-high score for that apparatus. Additionally, it scored 49.550 on floor exercise against BYU/Kent State (with four routines of 9.900 or better), marking the first time since March 10, 2013, at UCLA that U-M has scored that high on floor exercise.
Four different gymnasts won events against BYU/Kent State: Austin Sheppard (vault), Shelby Gies (uneven bars), Briley Casanova (balance beam) and Natalie Beilstein (floor exercise). It was the first event titles of the season on those respective apparatuses for Casanova and Beilstein. Additionally, 11 of the team's 13 gymnasts contributed at least one routine in the tri-meet win over BYU/Kent State.
Freshman Nicole Artz competed as an all-arounder for the second time in her career against Kent State and BYU, scoring 39.200.
Last Saturday (March 1), the women's gymnastics team was chosen as the recipient of the BASF Team Chemistry MVP Award for the month of February and was honored on the court during the men's basketball game vs. Minnesota. [ Release ]
Q: After that long three-week stretch on the road, did you sense your team was happy to be at home last Friday, given how the performances went?
A: Absolutely. I felt like we got a little beat up those last three weeks and that's not in a physical sense. It's difficult to be on the road for three weeks and have things that for whatever reason don't go as well as you'd like them to go. It was important for us to get back on track and have a great meet, which I think we did. I also think it's a perfect setup for this weekend against two awesome teams. How can you ask for a better competition than to have Nos. 6-8 in the same competition at this time of year?
Q: Knowing who is coming up this weekend, how much confidence did the team gain coming out of last weekend's performance?
A: Quite a bit, I think. I've said it before. I think our teams gets up for challenges like this. I expect this to be a great week of practice and for us to have a lot of excitement going into this weekend.
Q: Friday is also your Senior Night. This class has been so important to the makeup of this team since they've arrived on campus.
A: They make up nearly 50 percent of the team, so they've obviously had a major impact. I want them to really enjoy the heck out of this competition. Unlike in years past, this will not be their last performance in Crisler Center, which is a little unusual. We get to come back the next week for the Big Ten Quad and do it all over again. I want it to be a celebration of everything they've done and the impact they've had on our program and save the tears for after.
Q: Going back to last Friday, would you say it was the team's most complete performance of the season? Maybe not in terms of score, but in terms of overall performance?
A: As a coach, you can always nitpick some little things and point to areas where you could have been a little better. But generally speaking, from top to bottom and nitpicking aside, it was at least equal to our best. It was one of our better team efforts, I'd say.
Q: Few more weeks left until the postseason. How do you prepare the team for that transition mentally?
A: The hardest part of the season has been these last three weeks and this week. We're still far enough away from the postseason before you start to get that extra excitement, but far enough along in the season that everything hurts. The freshmen are going, 'Wow, this is a long season. I'm not used to competing every single weekend.' After this meet, the postseason will be in sight. The adrenaline will start to kick in and maybe things hurt a little less. We've paid all our dues and now it's time to shine and reap the benefits. That's what we train for. That's what we prepare for all year long. It's our own fault if we don't go out there and enjoy it.
LAST TIME OUT
Michigan competed inside Crisler Center for the first time in four weeks, scoring 197.200 in a tri-meet win over BYU (195.325) and Kent State (194.275) last Friday (Feb. 28). [ Recap ]
Saturday, March 15 -- vs. Minnesota, vs. Penn State, vs. Iowa (Crisler Center), 1:30 p.m. [ TV: Big Ten Network ]
OTHER RELATED LINKS
The All-Around (Tuesday)
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423