This Week in Michigan Women's Gymnastics #11

March 12, 2013

• Video: Event Preview
• Audio: The All-Around audio | Bev  Plocki on WKTA Insider audio

Saturday, March 16
-- vs. Iowa State - Senior Day (Crisler Center), 4 p.m.
BUY TICKETS | Big Ten Network (TV) | Live Results

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Crisler Center | Donald R. Shepherd Women's Gymnastics Training Center

The No. 3-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (16-1) closes out the regular season at home this Saturday (March 16), facing Iowa State (4-10) at 4 p.m. inside Crisler Center. The meet will be shown live to a national audience on the Big Ten Network. Lisa Byington (play-by-play) and former U-M gymnast Kylee (Botterman) Kolarik (analyst) will provide the call. Fans attending the meet are encouraged to be in their seats promptly at 4 p.m. for the start of the meet.

At the conclusion of the meet, the Michigan coaching staff will honor its three seniors: Natalie Beilstein, Brittnee Martinez and Katie Zurales.

The 2013 Big Ten Women's Gymnastics Championships will take place on Saturday, March 23, at Jenison Field House in East Lansing, Mich. There will be two sessions, with four teams competing in each session based on RQS. The teams with the four lowest RQS scores will compete at 1 p.m., with the highest four teams will compete at 6 p.m. Both sessions will be shown live on the Big Ten Network. For ticket information, call (517) 355-1610 or click here to purchase online.


Michigan remains at No. 3 in this week's GymInfo/Troester rankings (197.175) for the seventh consecutive week. The Wolverines have been ranked in the top three every week this season, including No. 1 on two occasions (Jan. 11 and Jan. 21) and also No. 2 (Jan. 14). Oklahoma retook the No. 1 spot this week (197.570), while Florida is No. 2 (197.440).
[ Rankings ]

The Wolverines rank among the top 10 nationally and lead the Big Ten in all four events. They are first on floor exercise (49.450), fourth on uneven bars (49.355), fifth on balance beam (49.185) and seventh on vault (49.340). Junior Joanna Sampson is ranked second nationally in the all-around (39.550), while senior Katie Zurales is 12th (39.365).

Team Average 197.570, Oklahoma 197.175 (3)
Vault 49.470, LSU 49.340 (7)
Uneven Bars 49.465, Oklahoma 49.355 (4)
Balance Beam 49.395, Oklahoma 49.185 (5)
Floor Exercise 49.450, MICHIGAN ---
All-Around 39.590, Vanessa Zamarripa, UCLA 39.550, Joanna Sampson (2)
39.365, Katie Zurales (12)
Vault 9.955, Tory Wilson, Utah 9.895, Joanna Sampson (T-18)
9.890, Katie Zurales (T-24)
Uneven Bars 9.940, Chelsea Davis, Georgia 9.900, Joanna Sampson (T-8)
9.875, Katie Zurales (T-20)
Balance Beam 9.940, Taylor Spears, Oklahoma 9.880, Katie Zurales (14)
Floor Exercise 9.945, Joanna Sampson, MICHIGAN ---
9.885, Sachi Sugiyama (T-25)

The national rankings are determined by regional qualifying score (RQS). A team's RQS is calculated by taking its six highest scores, at least three of which must be from road meets. The highest score is dropped and the remaining five are averaged. Factoring in its score from last Sunday (March 10) at UCLA, Michigan raised its RQS from 197.080 to 197.175. Its score from that meet is now counted among its six scores, removing the team's 196.900 from Jan. 12 vs. Nebraska. The team's RQS for this week is based on its results from the following meets:

1. 197.550 - March 10 at UCLA, vs. California, vs. Iowa State (A)
2. 197.375 - Feb. 16 vs. Penn State (H)
3. 197.350 - Jan. 19 vs. Illinois (H)
4. 197.300 - March 2 at Michigan State (A)
5. 196.925 - Feb. 8 at Ohio State (A)
6. 196.925 - Feb. 24 at West Virginia, vs. New Hampshire, vs. Towson (A)


• Michigan is 14-0 all-time against Iowa State. This Saturday's contest will be only the seventh time the two teams have met in a dual-meet setting, with two of those meetings coming earlier this season, both Michigan wins. The first meeting came on Jan. 26 at Minnesota (196.775-193.950) and the second was at UCLA last Sunday (197.550-194.650). The series history dates back to 1985.

• The Wolverines set several season or program bests at UCLA last Sunday (March 10). Their score of 197.550 was the fifth-highest regular-season score in program history and tied for the program's eighth-highest overall score. Also, it is team's highest score since March 7, 2008, vs. Georgia (197.600) and highest road score since the 2004 Big Ten Championships (197.800). Michigan's uneven bars score (49.575) was second best in program history (first is 49.625 at the 2004 Big Ten Championships) and its vault score of 49.550 was its highest since Feb. 2008 (49.600 at the State of Michigan Classic).

• The Wolverines have not been ranked this high this late in the regular season since 2000. They were ranked No. 1 from March 7-28, 2000. The GymInfo rankings first came out in 1996.

• Michigan has scored better than 197.000 in four meets this season, a feat that has not happened since 2004. The last time Michigan had a season of five or more scores of 197.000 or above was in 2001 (six). It also had five in 2000. U-M has also scored more than 49.000 in 37 of 40 rotations this season.

• A win over Iowa State on Saturday would cap the Wolverines' regular season with a 17-1 record, which would be their best regular-season record since 2008 (18-1).

Joanna Sampson was named Big Ten Co-Gymnast of the Week on Monday (March 11) for the fifth time this season. She won the all-around last Sunday (March 10) at the UCLA quad meet, scoring 39.575 and defeating the nations' No. 1-ranked all-arounder, Vanessa Zamarripa (UCLA). At the meet, Sampson tied for first on floor exercise (9.950), tied for second on uneven bars (9.925) and tied for third on vault (9.925). [ Release ]

• Senior Katie Zurales was named of the six finalists for the 2013 AAI Award last Wednesday (March 6), given annually to the nation's top senior student-athlete in NCAA D-I women's gymnastics. She is the ninth gymnast in program history to be named a finalist. The last finalist was Kylee Botterman in 2011, the program's first and only winner of the award. [ Release ]

• Junior Joanna Sampson has six all-around wins this season (10 for her career) and has won or shared the floor exercise title in six straight competitions, scoring 9.925 or above in all of them. For her career, she has 16 scores of 39.000 or above in the all-around, tying her with Janessa Grieco (2000-03) and Beth Amelkovich (1996-99) for 11th most in program history. The next gymnast on that list is Tatjana Thuener-Rego, who had 21 from 2005-09.

• This season, Michigan gymnasts have won or shared 33 of a possible 40 event titles (82 percent), with Joanna Sampson and Katie Zurales combining for 26 of them.


Bev Plocki

Q: Talk about the team's performance at UCLA. What does it say about the team that you were able to maybe not have your best start but still come back and perform at a very high level over the last three rotations?
A: I actually thought we had a very good start, but we can't control the judging. It was just a more strictly judged event, but it was fortunately consistent all the way around. We wanted to keep our adrenaline down and get that first event under our belt, which we did, then come out and fire on all cylinders in the other three events. It started on floor, and Natalie (Beilstein) got us off to a great start. On vault, I think we stuck more vaults than any single meet all season long, which was great to propel us into uneven bars. Even though we were going into what is a pretty good event for us, we knew UCLA was finishing on floor, and that's typically an outstanding event for them. The pressure was still o,n and we knew we had to rock bars to put away the meet. We started out with a fall, so the pressure only ramped up for the last five. We stepped up to the plate and got it done.

Q: A few event specialists really shined against UCLA in Reema Zakharia and Sachi Sugiyama. They have been steady on their events all season long.
A: Everybody on this team has a role. We've discussed with each individual what those roles are, but you're absolutely right. Reema has been a factor on floor all season long, but she's also been a key player on vault and balance beam to some degree. She's been ready to go in when she's called upon. Stephanie's (Colbert) legs were sore this week, so we asked Reema to go in on vault, and she gave us her best. We can't ask much better than that. And Sachi has been steadily and consistently getting better throughout her career. She's becoming a veteran even as a sophomore.

Q: How important was a win at UCLA for this team? It was the highest-rated team you've faced this year, it was on the road, and it was at the site of the NCAA Championships.
A: It puts it into perspective. After the competition, I probably had at least six people say to me, 'Wow, you beat UCLA at UCLA,' which gives you an indication that there aren't a lot of teams that go into their arena and win. It's just one of those places that for whatever reason, not many visiting teams win at. That being said, it was very important for us. There are a lot of people around the country, if they had not taken notice thus far, they definitely will now.

Q: This Saturday's meet against Iowa State is the final regular-season meet of the year. It's gone by quick, for sure, but it's also the last opportunity to clean things up and/or rest people before Big Tens the following week. What sorts of things will you impress upon your team this week in practice and does the short week (with Monday being a travel day) affect that at all?
A: I hope it won't. We just need to continue doing what we've been doing because it's been working. What we've been doing is trying to pay attention to ourselves. Every individual person at every practice is trying to improve some tiny little thing to get better for next week. We've done a much better job on our landings. We need to keep focusing on that.

Q: Lastly, this Saturday is Senior Day. What legacy does this group of seniors leave to this program?
A: I hope their legacy is going to win a national championship, but we won't know that next weekend. This group of seniors has put us in a position to legitimately contend for a national title. That's a pretty nice legacy. We've only got three routines new to our lineup over last year. The resilience this team showed hanging in there last year and getting through it, not to mention how much they've improved from last season to this, has been very impressive. Needless to say, they've been very important to our success over the years.

The Wolverines put up their highest score of the season (197.550) to defeat No. 6 UCLA, Iowa State and California in a quad meet last Sunday (March 10) in Los Angeles, Calif. [ Recap ]

Saturday, March 23
-- at Big Ten Championships (East Lansing, Mich.), 1/6 p.m. (TV: Big Ten Network)

The All-Around (Tuesday) -- Sachi Sugiyama and Briley Casanova
Bev Plocki on WTKA 1050 AM (Friday at 8:05 a.m.)

Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423

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