March 19, 2013
Saturday, March 23 -- at Big Ten Championships (East Lansing, Mich.), 6 p.m. (TV: Big Ten Network)
The No. 4-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team (17-1) looks to win Big Ten title No. 20 this Saturday (March 23) when it competes at the 2013 Big Ten Championships, held at Jenison Field House in East Lansing, Mich. By virtue of having one of the four highest Regional Qualifying Scores in the conference, the Wolverines will compete in the championship's second session at 6 p.m., facing off against No. 9 Nebraska, No. 14 Minnesota and No. 14 Penn State. No. 18 Illinois, No. 20 Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan State will be in the first session (at 1 p.m.). The Wolverines, the meet's No. 1 seed, will start the meet on floor exercise, followed by vault and uneven bars before closing on balance beam.
The Big Ten Network will televise both sessions live. Lisa Byington and Kylee (Botterman) Kolarik will be on the call.
Single session and all-session tickets can be purchased through the Michigan State University Ticket Office.
[ Purchase Tickets: Online | Phone (517) 355-1610 ]
Michigan dropped one spot to No. 4 in this week's GymInfo/Troester rankings (197.175). The Wolverines' RQS did not change this week, but Alabama's did, moving the Crimson Tide to No. 3 and bumping Michigan to No. 4. Prior to the drop, the Wolverines were ranked in the top three every week during the regular season. [ Rankings ]
The Wolverines rank among the top 10 nationally and lead the Big Ten (or are tied) on all four events. They are first on floor exercise (49.450), fourth on uneven bars (49.355), tied for sixth on balance beam (49.185) and seventh on vault (49.390). Junior Joanna Sampson is tied for third nationally in the all-around (39.550) and is ranked on three events -- first on floor exercise (9.945), tied for 11th on uneven bars (9.900) and tied for 12th on vault (9.910).
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|Team Average||197.700, Florida||197.175 (4)|
|Vault||49.470, Florida/LSU||49.390 (7)|
|Uneven Bars||49.510, Florida||49.355 (4)|
|Balance Beam||49.430, Oklahoma||49.185 (T-6)|
|Floor Exercise||49.450, MICHIGAN||---|
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|All-Around||39.630, Vanessa Zamarripa, UCLA||39.550, Joanna Sampson (T-3)|
|39.365, Katie Zurales (19)|
|Vault||9.965, Kytra Hunter, Florida||9.910, Joanna Sampson (T-12)|
|9.900, Katie Zurales (T-22)|
|Uneven Bars||9.945, Chelsea Davis, Georgia||9.900, Joanna Sampson (T-8)|
|9.945, Mackenzie Caquatto, Florida||9.880, Katie Zurales (T-21)|
|9.945, Bridget Sloan, Florida|
|Balance Beam||9.945, Taylor Spears, Oklahoma||9.880, Katie Zurales (T-18)|
|Floor Exercise||9.945, Joanna Sampson, MICHIGAN||---|
The 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. 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 has won more Big Ten Championships than any other program (19), including titles in 18 of the last 21 conference meets. Nebraska is the defending champion, winning last season's meet in Iowa City, Iowa, while the Wolverines finished fourth.
The Wolverines have claimed 77 Big Ten individual titles in their history, including at least one in 22 straight Big Ten meets going back to 1991. Nine U-M athletes have been named Big Ten Gymnast of the Year and nine have been named Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Fifty-five Michigan gymnasts have combined to receive 97 All-Big Ten first team honors and an additional 25 second team honors (second team began in 2003). Head coach Bev Plocki is a 10-time Big Ten Coach of the Year (including shares).
The Big Ten announced its All-Big Ten teams on Monday (March 18), with six Wolverines getting honored. Seniors Katie Zurales and Brittnee Martinez, junior Joanna Sampson and sophomore Sachi Sugiyama were all named to the first team, while senior Natalie Beilstein and junior Shelby Gies were named to the second team. The conference awards for Gymnast, Freshman and Coach of the Year will be announced Saturday at the Championships. [ Release ]
The Wolverines shared the inaugural Big Ten regular-season championship with Minnesota after the Golden Gophers beat Ohio State last Saturday (March 16) in Minneapolis, Minn. Both Michigan and Minnesota finished the season with 6-1 records in conference dual meets. Minnesota won the only meeting between the two teams, 196.800-196.775, back on Jan. 26 in Minneapolis.
This is the fifth time that the Big Ten Championships will be held in East Lansing. The Wolverines have won two titles when the championships have been held there, including wins in 1992 and 1999. The last time the championships were in East Lansing, Michigan finished fourth (2006). The Wolverines were also there in 1985 (fourth).
With its win last Saturday over Iowa State, Michigan finished the regular season with a 17-1 record, its best mark since 2008 (18-1).
Junior Joanna Sampson has seven all-around wins this season (11 for her career) and has won or shared the floor exercise title in seven straight competitions, scoring 9.925 or above in all of them. For her career, she has 17 scores of 39.000 or above in the all-around, surpassing 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. Sampson is averaging 39.435 in the all-around this season, which, if the season ended today, would be the third-best season average in program history behind only Elise Ray (39.458 in 2004) and Kylee Botterman (39.450 in 2011).
Through 11 meets, Michigan gymnasts have won or shared 36 of a possible 44 event titles (82 percent) and scored above 49.000 in 40 of 44 rotations.
Q: Give us your overall thoughts on the team as you head into the postseason.
A: I definitely think that we are primed and ready to go. It might have actually been a good thing that we didn't have our best meet on Senior Night. Anytime you don't do you best, it's a bit of a wakeup call, not that our team didn't know they had to go in and earn it. It's a reminder that this is going to be a hotly contested championship. Any one of those teams could walk away with it. We've got to go in there, hit four events and 20-plus routines in order to come home with the title.
Q: In talking about last Saturday's meet against Iowa State, it wasn't the cleanest, but despite several falls, you still sent your seniors out with a win. Given how the team really hasn't had a meet like that this year, what sort of message did you have for them after it was over?
A: We really celebrated our seniors after the competition. I didn't say a whole lot. We'll talk more about it today as we're getting started. I'm not concerned about Saturday. It's definitely something you have to take notice of. I don't think getting up was our problem. I think we were too up. With it being Senior Night, everyone wants to go out and make that night so perfect and special. We got used to not counting a break, and we caution our team to help prevent that. When it does, though, and we talk about it, there's more 'oomph' behind the message. We're going to treat it as a good thing and move on from here.
Q: Talk about what practice will be like this week. Business as usual? Does the rotation order impact practices?
A: This will be a fairly typical week for us. We'll take Wednesday off and train up at Michigan State in the venue on Friday. As far as the rotation goes, most people would tell you that starting on floor and ending on beam is difficult. I'm not saying it's not. We are the No. 1-ranked team on floor right now, so I would certainly hope that we could handle ourselves going in there on that. And ending on beam? Anytime you're in a dual meet away, you end on beam, so it's a position we've been in before. I don't see that as a big issue. Now, it can become an issue if it's a close, tightly contested meet, but this team has handled that kind of pressure before, and I know we can handle it again and rise to the occasion. It is what it is. Every team has to perform on the same four events. We just have to go out there and do our job.
Q: Everything gets taken to a new level in the postseason, especially the pressure. How can you simulate pressure-filled moments? Sounds like you think your team has had its share of those moments during the regular season.
A: I think we have. It's pretty difficult to simulate a live-meet, pressure situation. I try to preach that pressure is only what you allow it to be. We talk all the time about control the things you have control over. Nobody else's performance has any bearing on your individual ability to go out there and perform. We've got to make sure each athlete is in their own zone and is prepared to do what they're going to do regardless of the situation. Control your own circumstances. During the season, we try not to pay attention to other teams and what they are doing. We try not to watch scores. That gets a little bit more difficult at this point in the season, but again, you can't allow any of those outside factors to get inside your head. It's definitely a challenge, but we've practiced enough that we're at the point where we do a pretty good job concentrating on ourselves.
Q: At this point in the season, the routines are there and the lineups are pretty much set. That being said, as you enter the postseason, does the mental side become a little bit more important than the physical?
A: Absolutely. I think the preseason is 90 percent physical and 10 percent mental. The season in general is just the opposite, but it's even truer in championships. I wouldn't say lineups are set in stone, either. Things can happen. We have very capable alternates that are ready to go in should anything happen. Those people know who they are. They are mentally and physically prepared in their respective events. We're not adding more difficulty. We're not changing routines. What we do is what we do. It's absolutely much more mental than it is physical from this point on.
LAST TIME OUT
The Wolverines closed out the regular season with a 196.825-195.125 victory over Iowa State on Senior Night last Saturday (March 16) at Crisler Center. [ Recap ]
Saturday, April 6 -- at NCAA Regionals (Site TBD)
The Wolverines will find out its site and opponents for NCAA Regionals during the NCAA Selection Show next Monday (March 25) at 3 p.m. on NCAA.com. The six regional sites this year are Florida, Oklahoma, Alabama, Ohio State, West Virginia and Oregon State.
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423
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