April 2, 2012
The No. 21-ranked University of Michigan women's gymnastics team makes its 21st consecutive appearance at the NCAA Regional Championships when it competes at the Auburn Regional on Saturday (April 7) in Auburn, Ala. The meet will be held inside Auburn Arena and begin at 6 p.m. CDT.
The Wolverines are the fourth seed at the regional, following top-seeded Georgia (No. 6), Oregon State (No. 7) and host Auburn (No. 18). The two other teams at the Regional are West Virginia and Michigan State. The top two teams from each of the six Regionals across the country advance to the NCAA Championships, to be held April 20-22 in Duluth, Ga. The top two all-around gymnasts and any event winner not on a qualifying team will also receive berths into the 12-team field at the national meet.
The Wolverines are making their 21st consecutive appearance at the NCAA Regional Championships (22nd overall). Since 1992, Michigan has won nine Regional titles, including last season in Ann Arbor. Additionally, the Wolverines have qualified as a team for the NCAA Championships in 19 of the last 20 seasons, with 2009 being the only exception.
In its history, Michigan has crowned 52 NCAA Regional individual event champions, including 18 on uneven bars, 11 in both the all-around and on floor exercise, nine on vault, and three on balance beam. The Wolverines had four Regional champions last season: Kylee Botterman (floor exercise, all-around), Jordan Sexton (uneven bars) and Joanna Sampson (vault). Michigan has crowned at least one NCAA Regional champion in 13 of its last 14 appearances; U-M did not crown an event champion in 2008.
Previewing the Field
Georgia -- Finished third at the SEC Championships (196.775) ... ranked No. 6 in the country and the top seed at the Auburn Regional ... senior Kat Ding is ranked No. 1 in the NCAA on uneven bars (9.935) and tied for 15th on vault (9.910) ... defeated Michigan, 196.575-195.300, on March 9 at the EMU Convocation Center ... Michigan is 23-6 all-time against Georgia.
Oregon State -- Finished third at the PAC-12 Championships (197.050) ... ranked No. 7 in the country and the second seed at the Auburn Regional ... led by senior Leslie Mak, the 2012 PAC-12 Gymnast of the Year ... Mak is also tied for first in the nation on balance beam (9.930) ... Michigan and Oregon State last met in the regular season on March 16, 2002, at the Shanico Inn-Vitational, with Michigan winning 196.700-196.675 ... two teams last met in the postseason at the 2008 NCAA West Regional in Corvallis, Ore. ... Michigan is 5-8 all-time against Oregon State.
Auburn -- Finished seventh at the SEC Championships (194.100) ... ranked No. 18 in the country and the third seed at the Auburn Regional ... head coach Jeff Graba was named the 2012 SEC Coach of the Year ... freshman Bri Guy was named a second team All-SEC selection ... the meet will be held inside Auburn Arena (9,121), which opened in 2010. Auburn had 7,299 fans for its meet against Alabama earlier this year ... Michigan is 5-0 all-time against Auburn, with its most-recent victory coming at the 2006 NCAA Northeast Regional in Ann Arbor.
West Virginia -- Won the EAGL (East Atlantic Gymnastics League) Championships (196.475) ... unranked in the top 25 ... seeded fifth in the Auburn Regional ... sophomore Hope Sloanhoffer named 2012 EAGL Gymnast of the Year ... Michigan beat then-No. 20 West Virginia, 194.650-194.050, on Feb. 3 ... the Wolverines are 16-4 all-time against West Virginia.
Michigan State -- Finished eighth at the Big Ten Championships (194.675) ... unranked in the top 25 ... seeded sixth at the Auburn Regional ... sophomore Taira Neal was named a second team All-Big Ten selection ... Michigan beat Michigan State, 196.025-192.700, on March 16 ... the Wolverines are 55-32 all-time against Michigan State and have won the last 13 meetings in the series.
The Rankings 4-1-1
After its fourth-place finish at Big Tens, Michigan improved its RQS but stayed at No. 21 (195.825) in the GymInfo/Troester Top 25. The Wolverines are ranked 11th on vault (49.215), 18th on uneven bars (49.025) and 25th on balance beam (48.845).
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)
- 196.025 - vs. Michigan State (March 16)
- 195.900 - at Penn State/UNC (March 2)
- 195.875 - at Big Ten Championships (March 24)
- 195.825 - at Masters Classic (Feb. 11)
- 195.500 - vs. Ohio State (Jan. 13)
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|Team Average||197.445, Florida||195.825 (21)|
|Vault||49.510, UCLA||49.215 (11)|
|Uneven Bars||49.395, Florida||49.025 (18)|
|Balance Beam||49.410, Florida||48.845 (25)|
|Floor Exercise||49.380, Oklahoma||48.990 (NR)|
|NCAA LEADER||MICHIGAN (NATIONAL RANK)|
|All-Around||39.590, Jaime Pisani, Arkansas||39.185, Joanna Sampson (NR)|
|Vault||9.935, Sara Stone, Oklahoma||9.900, Sachi Sugiyama and Joanna Sampson (T-21)|
|Uneven Bars||9.935, Kat Ding, Georgia||9.845, Brittnee Martinez (NR)|
|Balance Beam||9.930, Leslie Mak, Oregon State||9.855, Katie Zurales (NR)|
|Floor Exercise||9.940, Megan Ferguson, Oklahoma and Jaime Pisani, Arkansas||9.855, Joanna Sampson (NR)|
Countdown to 600
Head coach Bev Plocki is nearing the 600-win milestone. With the Wolverines at 13-8 so far this season, her current win-loss record stands at 584-210-2.
Last Time Out
The Wolverines finished fourth at the Big Ten Championships, held on March 24 in Iowa City, Iowa. Michigan won the morning session by scoring 195.875, its fourth-highest score of the season, beating Illinois by a quarter-of-a-tenth (195.850). [ Recap ] [ Photo Galleries: Competition | Awards Ceremony ] [ Michigan Daily ]
Sugiyama Wins B1G Vault Title
Freshman Sachi Sugiyama became the program's 77th Big Ten individual champion after winning the vault title at the conference meet (scored 9.950). Her title also extended Michigan's streak of crowning at least one Big Ten individual champion at every conference meet dating back to 1991 (22 straight). [ Winning Vault ] [ Video Interview (Facebook) ]
At the Big Ten Championships, sophomore Stephanie Colbert was the sixth competitor to go on the apparatus and needed to hit after Joanna Sampson scored a 9.250 earlier in the rotation. Colbert completed her routine on uneven bars for the first time in her collegiate career, scoring a 9.700 in what ended up being the cushion the team needed to maintain its fourth-place standing. She also competed in every event for the first time in a collegiate meet, scoring a 38.650 in the all-around standings.
The Honorable Wolverines
Several Wolverines earned Big Ten honors over the last two weeks. Junior tri-captain Katie Zurales was named a second team All-Big Ten selection, the first all-conference honor in her career. She was also named the team's nominee to the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. [ Release ]
Sachi Sugiyama and sophomore Joanna Sampson were named to the all-championships team at the conference meet. In addition to her vault title, Sugiyama also finished tied for second on uneven bars (9.900), while Sampson tied for second on vault (9.925).
Peaking at The Right Time
Michigan has improved its scoring average/RQS each of the last nine weeks. Additionally, three of the team's top six scores that it contributes to its RQS have come in the last four competitions. The Wolverines have gone above 196.000 twice this season, scoring 196.300 at the Oklahoma tri-meet on Feb. 24 and 196.025 against Michigan State on March 16.
In the last five competitions, Michigan is averaging 48.880 on balance beam. In the six meets prior to Feb. 24 against Oklahoma, the Wolverines averaged 48.225 on balance beam. Additionally, Michigan has not had an athlete fall in the last three meets and has not counted a fall on balance beam since Feb. 17 against Utah, a string of five meets.
After scoring sub-49.000 scores on vault during the first two meets of March, the Wolverines have rebounded. They have scored above 49.000 in each of their last two meets, including a 49.375 score at the Big Ten Championships, the team's second-highest score on that apparatus this season. Overall, Michigan has scored above a 49.000 on vault in nine of 11 meets this season, ranking 11th in the country (49.215).
Michigan gymnasts won or tied for 25 of 40 event titles in dual meets this season. Additionally, the Wolverines have had three different gymnasts win at least one all-around title; Joanna Sampson has won it four times (West Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma/TWU, Michigan State (share)), Katie Zurales has won it three times (Ohio State, Georgia, Michigan State (share)), and Sachi Sugiyama has won it once (Minnesota).
Despite a roster with no seniors and four injuries over the course of the season, the Wolverines remain as strong and as close as ever. [ Feature: Unit 11 and the Magnificent Seven ]
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 head coach Bev Plocki. [ iTunes ]
Fri-Sun., April 20-22 -- at NCAA Championships (Duluth, Ga.)
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423