Maize & Blue Signs Smith, Sheppard for 2013 Season
Austin Sheppard (top) and Morgan Smith

Nov. 14, 2011

Coach Plocki Interview

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan women's gymnastics head coach Bev Plocki announced Monday (Nov. 14) the signings of a pair of highly touted national recruits in Austin Sheppard (Dallas, Texas/Plano East) and Morgan Smith (Clermont, Fla./East Ridge) to National Letters of Intent for the 2013 season.

"We are extremely excited to add Austin and Morgan to the Michigan gymnastics family," Plocki said. "Both are very high-level athletes with tons of national and international experience. These two young women bring a lot of competitive experience and mental toughness to our team."

"It's one thing to be able to do high-level gymnastics, and it's another to do high-level gymnastics under pressure, and that's what both Austin and Morgan will bring to the program," added Plocki. "I think they will really thrive in college gymnastics, and will be great student-athletes here at the University of Michigan."

Sheppard, a current member of the Hungarian national team, finished 11th on vault at the World Championships last month in Tokyo and 13th on vault at the European Championships this past April. While born in the United States, Sheppard has established dual citizenship in Hungary, allowing her to compete for the country in international competition. In 2010, Sheppard finished second on floor exercise, third on vault and seventh in the all-around at the Junior Olympic (J.O.) National Championships. Additionally, Sheppard was the 2010 J.O. regional floor champion (and finished fifth in the all-around) and was the Level 10 Texas state champion on beam and vault.

Smith has been a member of the U.S. National Team since 2008. In 2010, Smith finished fifth on the beam and sixth on the uneven bars at the Visa National Championships. At the same event in 2009, Smith was a silver medalist on uneven bars, also finishing sixth in the all-around. Additionally, Smith, who trains at Brandy Johnson's Gymnastics in Clermont, Fla., helped Team USA win a gold medal at the 2010 Trofeo Citta di Jesolo in Italy, finishing fourth in the all-around and fourth on the balance beam as an individual. [ Official Website for Morgan Smith ]

Michigan has no seniors on its roster this season and will not lose any student-athletes to graduation.

Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423

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