Week #9: U-M to Battle No. 5 Georgia Friday at EMU Convocation Center
Reema Zakharia

March 5, 2012

The All-Around with Reema Zakharia | Coach Plocki on WTKA

Friday, March 9 -- vs. No. 5 Georgia (at EMU Convocation Center, Ypsilanti, Mich.), 7 p.m.
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Following its two best team scores of the season in the past two weeks, the No. 20-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (8-4 overall, 3-2 Big Ten) welcomes in another one the nation's best, as it faces No. 5 Georgia (6-3) on Friday (March 9). Due to renovations at Crisler Center, the meet will be held at the EMU Convocation Center in neighboring Ypsilanti, Mich., and will start at 7 p.m.

Meet Change
The Wolverines' last regular-season home meet on March 16 against in-state rival Michigan State will be held inside Cliff Keen Arena and start at 7 p.m. The meet will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

The Rankings 4-1-1
Michigan moved up three spots to No. 20 (195.345) in this week's Troester/GymInfo Top 25 rankings, released Monday (March 5). 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 team's RQS for this week is based on its results from the following meets:

  1. 196.300 - at Oklahoma/TWU (Feb. 24)
  2. 195.900 - at Penn State/UNC (March 2)
  3. 195.825 - at Masters Classic (Feb. 11)
  4. 195.500 - vs. Ohio State (Jan. 13)
  5. 194.850 - vs. Utah (Feb. 17)
  6. 194.650 - vs. West Virginia (Feb. 3)

Michigan moved up three spots (and almost sixth-tenths of a point) thanks to its 195.900 last Friday (March 2) at the Penn State tri-meet. That score allowed Michigan to drop its 193.150 from Jan. 21 at Minnesota, which was previously being counted because of the need to have three road scores in the RQS.

Minnesota (No. 18 - 195.470) and Illinois (No. 19 - 195.360) are just barely ahead of Michigan in this week's rankings for the fourth spot in the Big Ten at fourth and fifth, respectively. The top four teams in the rankings will compete in the evening session at the Big Ten Championships on March 24. Additionally, after the round of conference championships, the top 18 teams in the country will be seeded into regional competition. [ Rankings ]

Team Average 197.330, Florida 195.345 (20)
Vault 49.485, UCLA 49.150 (11)
Uneven Bars 49.345, Florida 48.965 (16)
Balance Beam 49.385, Florida 48.495 (NR)
Floor Exercise 49.365, Oklahoma 48.870 (NR)
All-Around 39.500, Katherine Grable, Arkansas 39.140, Joanna Sampson (24)
Vault 9.935, Sara Stone, Oklahoma 9.885, Sachi Sugiyama (T-23)
Uneven Bars 9.905, Kat Ding, Georgia 9.845, Brittnee Martinez (NR)
Balance Beam 9.925, Marissa King, Florida 9.770, Joanna Sampson (NR)
Floor Exercise 9.940, Megan Ferguson, Oklahoma 9.835, Reema Zakharia (NR)


Countdown to 600
Head coach Bev Plocki is nearing the 600-win milestone. With the Wolverines at 8-4 so far this season, her current win-loss record stands at 579-206-2.

Opponent Preview
Georgia is 6-3 on the season and scored a season-high 197.700 last Friday (March 2) in a win over No. 3 UCLA. In the team events, Georgia is No. 2 on bars (49.285), No. 4 on beam (49.195), No. 5 on floor (49.210) and No. 9 on vault (49.260). Georgia has the third-highest overall team scoring average with a 196.844, trailing only Florida and Oklahoma.

Individually, Kat Ding remains No. 1 on the uneven bars with a 9.905 RQS, and she is tied for sixth on vault with a 9.910. Shayla Worley is tied for sixth on beam (9.880), Noel Couch is tied for 11th on floor (9.885) and is 16th in the all-around (39.275), and Gina Nuccio is tied for 12th on bars (9.880).

The Wolverines earned two victories Georgia last season, getting their first-ever win in Athens on March 12, 196.800-196.050. Michigan also finished higher than Georgia at the NCAA Preliminaries (April 15, 2011). Georgia leads the all-time series 23-5, with Michigan earning other victories in 2002, 2008 and 2010.

Facing the Best
Georgia is ranked No. 5 in this week's Troester/GymInfo Top 25 rankings. The Gym Dogs will be the fourth top-10 team the Wolverines have faced this season, joining Oklahoma (No. 2), Nebraska (No. 6) and Utah (No. 7).

Last Time Out
The Wolverines recorded their second-highest score of the season (195.900) but finished second to No. 11 Penn State at a tri-meet last Friday (March 2) in State College, Pa. Juniors Brittnee Martinez and Katie Zurales tied for the uneven bars title, and freshman Sachi Sugiyama finished third in the all-around (career high 39.350). [ Recap ] [ Postmeet Interview: Annette Miele (Facebook) ] [ Michigan Daily ]

Fabulous Freshmen
The Wolverines' two freshmen -- Sachi Sugiyama and Annette Miele -- were the team's shining stars during its tri-meet last Friday. Sugiyama set three new career highs, including in the all-around (39.350), on uneven bars (9.850) and balance beam (9.725). Miele had a pair of new career bests herself, coming on balance beam (9.875) and in the all-around (39.025).

Road Strong
The Wolverines' three best scores of the season have all come away from Ann Arbor. Michigan's season-best score of 196.300 came on Feb. 24 at Oklahoma/TWU, followed by last Friday's 195.900 against Penn State/UNC, and a 195.825 on Feb. 11 at the Masters Classic. Its highest home score was 195.500 on Jan. 13 against Ohio State.

Podium Toppers
Michigan gymnasts have won or tied for 19 of 32 event titles so far this season. 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 vault score of 48.975 at Penn State/UNC snapped its streak of going over 49.000 on the apparatus in every meet this season. The Wolverines rank 11th in the country on vault.


Injury Update
The Wolverines were dealt another blow last Friday (March 2) at Penn State after junior Brittnee Martinez injured her ankle on her vault landing. Martinez is the fourth Michigan gymnast to suffer an injury this season, but could return in the postseason. She joins fellow junior Natalie Beilstein and sophomore Kristin Nagle, who suffered season-ending injuries earlier this season, and Teresa Arthur, who has battled a lower leg injury all season. [ 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 ]


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 Reema Zakharia. [ 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).

Friday, March 16 -- vs. Michigan State (at Cliff Keen Arena), 7 p.m. (TV: Big Ten Nework, live)

Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423

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