March 12, 2012
In the final week before the Big Ten Championships, the No. 21-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (8-5, 3-2 Big Ten) closes out the regular season when it hosts in-state rival Michigan State (7-4-1, 0-2-1 Big Ten) on Friday (March 16) at 7 p.m. inside Cliff Keen Arena. The meet is set to be held at Keen Arena due to ongoing renovations at Crisler Center. [ BUY TICKETS ]
The meet will be televised to a national audience on the Big Ten Network (channel finder), with Lisa Byington and Kylee Kolarik (Botterman) calling the action. Kolarik (Botterman) was a four-year letterwinner at Michigan from 2008-11, having won the NCAA all-around title in 2011 and also earning nine NCAA All-American nods during her career.
Back in Keen
This Friday, the Wolverines will hold a first regular-season meet inside Cliff Keen Arena for the first time in nine years. The Michigan women's gymnastics team held its home meets inside the facility from 1990-2003 before permanently moving to Crisler Center in 2004. The last official meet that Michigan held inside Cliff Keen Arena was Feb. 14, 2003, against Northern Illinois.
The Rankings 4-1-1
Michigan improved its RQS following last week's loss to No. 5 Georgia but fell one spot to No. 21 (195.475) in the rankings, which were released on Monday (March 12). The Wolverines are ranked 12th on vault (49.150), 16th on uneven bars (48.990) and 22nd on floor exercise (48.960). Sophomore Joanna Sampson is the only individual who is ranked, tying for 25th in the all-around (39.165). 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:
- 196.300 - at Oklahoma/TWU (Feb. 24)
- 195.900 - at Penn State/UNC (March 2)
- 195.825 - at Masters Classic (Feb. 11)
- 195.500 - vs. Ohio State (Jan. 13)
- 195.300 - vs. Georgia (March 9)
- 194.850 - vs. Utah (Feb. 17)
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|Team Average||197.330, Florida||195.475 (21)|
|Vault||49.490, UCLA||49.150 (12)|
|Uneven Bars||49.345, Florida||48.990 (16)|
|Balance Beam||49.385, Florida||48.635 (NR)|
|Floor Exercise||49.365, Oklahoma||48.960 (22)|
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|All-Around||39.545, Jaime Pisani, Arkansas||39.165, Joanna Sampson (T-25)|
|Vault||9.935, Sara Stone, Oklahoma||9.885, Joanna Sampson/Sachi Sugiyama (NR)|
|Uneven Bars||9.930, Kat Ding, Georgia||9.845, Brittnee Martinez (NR)|
|Balance Beam||9.925, Marissa King, Florida||9.850, Katie Zurales (NR)|
|Floor Exercise||9.940, Megan Ferguson, Oklahoma||9.850, Joanna Sampson (NR)|
What's On The Line
After Nebraska became the eighth Big Ten team to feature women's gymnastics, the decision was made to split the conference meet into two sessions, with the bottom four teams in the rankings going in the afternoon session and the top four teams in the rankings competing in the evening session. Nebraska (No. 6), Penn State (No. 12) and Ohio State (No. 13) are locks to be the evening session, but the fourth spot is still up for grabs between Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois.
Minnesota is ranked No. 19 (195.665) in this week's poll, followed by Michigan at No. 21 (195.475) and Illinois at No. 22 (195.425). After its score from the Georgia meet last Friday was calculated in its RQS, Michigan briefly held the fourth spot but was overtaken by Minnesota after the Golden Gophers scored a 196.125 against Iowa State last Saturday (March 10), in what was its third-highest score of the season. [ Rankings ]
The Big Ten Championships will be held on Saturday, March 24, from Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The afternoon session begins at 2 p.m., and the evening session begins at 6 p.m.
Countdown to 600
Head coach Bev Plocki is nearing the 600-win milestone. With the Wolverines at 8-5 so far this season, her current win-loss record stands at 579-207-2.
Michigan State (7-4-1, 0-2-1 Big Ten) is unranked, making it only the fourth unranked team Michigan has faced this season (Southern Utah, Texas Woman's University, North Carolina). The Spartans rank eighth in the Big Ten with an RQS of 194.840 and an average of 193.818. Michigan State traveled to Alaska-Anchorage this past weekend for a pair of meets, winning both with scores of 194.175 and 195.425. The Spartans are led by Dani Levy in the all-around, who is averaging 38.400 this season.
Michigan is 54-32 all-time against Michigan State, and has won the last 12 meetings against its in-state rivals, dating back to March 3, 2007. The two teams met twice last season, with the Wolverines winning the MSU Quad on Jan. 7, 2011, in East Lansing (also with Iowa and Western Michigan), and again at the Big Ten Championships on March 19, 2011.
Last Time Out
Katie Zurales and Joanna Sampson finished 1-2 in the all-around, combining for three event wins, but Michigan lost the dual to No. 5 Georgia, 196.575-195.300, last Friday (March 9) at the Eastern Michigan Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich. [ Recap | Video Highlights | Photo Gallery | Michigan Daily ]
Sampson, Zurales Give Star Performances against Georgia
Against the Gym Dogs, junior Katie Zurales won the all-around title with a career-best score of 39.450. She also shared the vault and beam event titles, scoring 9.925 on vault and 9.900 on balance beam. It is Zurales' second all-around win of her career, with the other occasion coming on Jan. 13 in the team's season-opening meet against Ohio State (39.300). Additionally, Zurales has scored top-five finishes on vault in all but two meets (9.869 average) this season, and has either won or shared the event title on beam in five meets.
Sophomore Joanna Sampson finished tied for second in the all-around behind Zurales, scoring a 39.350. She tied with Zurales for the vault title (9.925) and won floor (9.925).
Colbert Stepping Up
Sophomore Stephanie Colbert competed on three events for the first time in her collegiate career against Georgia, including performing her first-ever balance beam routine in a collegiate meet. She scored 9.825 on floor (tying for fifth) and also scored 9.775 on vault and 9.725 on beam.
After some early-season struggles on floor exercise, Colbert has put together solid routines over the last three weeks, averaging 9.783 per routine. In the six meets prior to Feb. 24 against Oklahoma/TWU, Colbert was averaging 9.316 on floor exercise.
Despite putting up only five people on floor against Georgia, the Wolverines scored 49.225 as a team, which ties a season high. All five gymnasts scored above a 9.800. Michigan also scored 49.225 on Jan. 13 against Ohio State.
After going above 49.000 on vault in each of the eight meets of the season, Michigan put up a sub-49.000 score for the second straight meet (48.500). The Wolverines still rank 12th in the country on vault (49.150).
Michigan has steadily improved on the balance beam in the last few weeks. The Wolverines have had three of their four highest beam scores over the last three weeks, averaging 48.841 in that span. In the six meets prior to Feb. 24 against Oklahoma, Michigan averaged 48.225 on balance beam. Additionally, Michigan has not had to count a fall since Feb. 17 against Utah.
Michigan gymnasts have won or tied for 22 of 36 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), Katie Zurales has won it twice (Ohio State, Georgia) and Sachi Sugiyama has won it once (Minnesota).
The Wolverines were dealt another blow on 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 ]
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.
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.
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.
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 ]
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 Kristin Nagle. [ 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).
Saturday, March 24 -- at Big Ten Championships (Iowa City, Iowa), 2 p.m./6 p.m. (TV: Big Ten Network, live)
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423