Nov. 16, 2012
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan women's gymnastics head coach Bev Plocki announced Friday (Nov. 16) the addition of Briley Casanova (Dallas, Texas/Spring Creek Academy) to the 2013 squad and the signing of prep standout Talia Chiarelli (Boston, Mass./Lexington) to a National Letter of Intent for the 2014 season.
"We're extremely excited about the addition of these two young ladies to our program," Plocki said. "They both bring a significant amount of national and international competitive experience, and both perform their gymnastics at a very high level."
Casanova, who trained at World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA), will enroll at Michigan in January and be eligible to compete for the Wolverines this season. She is a former U.S. Junior National Team member (2008-09), qualifying to the team after taking eighth in the all-around and fourth on floor exercise at the 2008 U.S. Classic as well as fifth on balance beam and 12th in the all-around at the 2008 Visa National Championships. Most recently, she scored three top-10 finishes at the 2012 J.O. National Championships, winning the vault title, finishing sixth in the all-around and placing eighth on uneven bars in the "Senior B" division. Casanova also has extensive international competition experience, including the 2008 Massilia Cup in France (first on vault in preliminaries) and 2009 Junior Japan International (bronze medal in the all-around).
"Being able to add Briley this season gives us a tremendous boost," Plocki said. "We didn't lose anybody from last year, and we've only gotten better. Adding a gymnast of her caliber to our team makes us stronger and gives us even more depth."
Chiarelli is a member of the Canadian Women's National Team and trains at Brestyan's Gymnastics in Burlington, Mass. She helped Canada finish second at 2012 Olympic Qualifying and was one of 12 gymnasts slated to compete at the Canadian Olympic Trials but was forced to withdraw due to injury. Like Casanova, Chiarelli has extensive international experience, helping Canada to a second-place team finish at the 2011 Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, while also finishing fifth on balance beam individually. She also served as an alternate for Canada at the 2011 World Championships and took sixth in the all-around at the 2011 Canadian National Championships. Chiarelli also assisted Canada to a third-place finish at the 2011 Japan Cup and won the floor exercise competition at the Brazil International Meet this past June in São Bernardo, Brazil.
"Talia is a highly decorated athlete with extensive competitive experience," Plocki said. "She should be able to come in and make an impact in the all-around almost immediately."
Michigan loses seniors Natalie Beilstein (Butler, Pa./Knoch), Brittnee Martinez (Colorado Springs, Colo./Doherty) and Katie Zurales (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South) to graduation at end of the season.
Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423