Sampson Three-Peats as Michigan's Most Valuable Gymnast
Joanna Sampson

May 4, 2014

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan women's gymnastics team held its annual postseason banquet on Sunday (May 4) at Weber's Inn, as 10 different gymnasts received team awards. Among the winners was senior Joanna Sampson (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Moreland), who was named the team's Most Valuable Performer for the third consecutive season.

Sampson was unquestionably one of the nation's top gymnasts this season. As one of three captains, she helped lead Michigan to Big Ten and NCAA Regional championships and a 10th-place finish at the NCAA Championships. Individually, she was a three-time NCAA All-American, earning first team honors in the all-around, on uneven bars and on floor exercise. She was a two-time Big Ten champion (uneven bars, floor exercise), an NCAA Regional champion (floor exercise) and was one of three runners-up to the national championship on floor exercise. Sampson was one of six finalists for the coveted AAI Award, given annually to the nation's top senior women's gymnast, and was NCAA Northeast Region Gymnast of the Year for the second consecutive year. On the conference level, she was an All-Big Ten first team pick and an Academic All-Big Ten selection.

Freshman Nicole Artz (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa) was named the team's Newcomer of the Year. After graduating high school a full year early, Artz played a big part in the team's success this season, leading her to be named 2014 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. During the postseason, she collected two NCAA Regional titles (all-around, balance beam) and three NCAA All-America honors (all-around, uneven bars, floor exercise).

The Most Improved Award went to sophomore Austin Sheppard (Murphy, Texas/Plano East). Despite missing the last two meets of the season due to injury, Sheppard was one of the nation's top vaulters, hitting 9.975 on three occasions and finishing in a tie for second nationally (9.945 RQS). She primarily competed on vault last season as a freshman, but was a regular contributor on uneven bars this season, while also seeing meet action on balance beam and floor exercise.

Senior Shelby Gies (Pennington, N.J./Hopewell Valley Central) took home the Leadership Award. A two-time team captain, Gies was an NCAA All-American this year on uneven bars, making the second team. She was also a two-time All-Big Ten selection (second team in both 2013 and 2014) while earning Academic All-Big Ten distinction this season for the first time in her career.

The Unsung Hero Award was shared by freshman Talia Chiarelli (Boston, Mass./Lexington) and senior Stephanie Colbert. Though she didn't collect any honors or win any awards, Chiarelli was perhaps the team's most consistent performer as a freshman, hitting all 34 of her routines this season across vault, balance beam and floor exercise. Colbert was forced to competitively retire from the sport before the season started, instead contributing as an undergraduate volunteer assistant coach in her final year.

Juniors Brooke Parker (Lorton, Va./South County Secondary) and Sachi Sugiyama (Keller, Texas/Keller) shared the Coaches Award. Parker transferred in from the University of Alabama and provided depth on all four events, cracking the lineup five times on floor exercise and twice on vault. Sugiyama showed grit by consistently serving as the team's leadoff competitor on uneven bars and floor exercise (and on vault during the postseason). She received her first NCAA All-America honor this season, making the Individual Event Finals on vault.

Senior Teresa Arthur (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) was given the Scholar-Athlete Award for the third consecutive season. She has excelled in the classroom over her four years at Michigan, earning three Academic All-Big Ten and three NACGC/W Scholastic All-America honors, while being named a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar twice.

Senior Reema Zakharia (Miami, Fla./Coral Gables Senior High) was awarded the 10.0 Club Spirit Award for the third time in her four-year career. Arguably the team's most energetic performer, Zakharia also proved to be one of the team's most versatile gymnasts, regularly holding lineups spots on floor exercise (13 routines), balance beam (10 routines) and vault (eight routines).

2013-14 Award Recipients
Most Valuable Performer: Joanna Sampson
Newcomer of the Year: Nicole Artz
Most Improved: Austin Sheppard
Leadership Award: Shelby Gies
Unsung Hero: Talia Chiarelli, Stephanie Colbert
Coaches Award: Brooke Parker, Sachi Sugiyama
Scholar-Athlete Award: Teresa Arthur
10.0 Spirit Award: Reema Zakharia

Contact: Brad Rudner

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