LOS ANGELES – No. 3 Michigan put up its highest score of the season (197.550), coming up big on the final three rotations to rally and defeat No. 6 UCLA, California and Iowa State on Sunday inside Pauley Pavilion. Junior Joanna Sampson won the all-around (39.575) and tied for first on the floor exercise (9.950), while sophomore Sachi Sugiyama won the uneven bars (9.950).
The 197.550 team score is tied for eighth-highest in Michigan history and is the highest on the road since the 2004 Big Ten championships (197.800). In addition, it was the team’s highest overall score since 2008, highest score of the season and tied for the fifth-highest regular-season score in program history.
The Wolverines started the meet on arguably the most difficult apparatus, the balance beam. Despite some tight judging, Michigan managed to score 48.925 as a team, led by a trio of 9.800 scores from senior Brittnee Martinez, sophomore Annette Miele and freshman Briley Casanova. Sampson scored 9.775 and junior Shelby Gies scored 9.750 to round out the scoring for the rotation.
Michigan gained some ground on UCLA after another strong floor exercise rotation. Sampson shined once again, scoring 9.950 in the anchor spot to tie for first. A trio of gymnasts scored 9.900s, including senior Natalie Beilstein, junior Reema Zakharia and Sugiyama. The lowest score Michigan would drop during the rotation was a 9.850, which was achieved by both senior Katie Zurales and Casanova. UCLA still led at the halfway point, but Michigan remained in the hunt, 98.750-98.425.
The Wolverines scored a 49.550 on their third rotation on the vault, their highest mark since February 2008. Three gymnasts — Sugiyama, Zakharia and Zurales — each scored 9.900 (a career best for Zakharia), while Sampson and Beilstein scored 9.925. Freshman Austin Sheppard scored a 9.875. Michigan retook the lead during the rotation and entered the final rotation with a narrow lead, 147.975-147.775.
Michigan put another number in the record book on the uneven bars and closed out the meet strong, scoring 49.575 as a team. A miscue by Miele in the first spot put on the pressure, but the other five weren’t phased, all scoring 9.850 or higher. Gies was in the second spot and scored 9.850, followed by Sugiyama at 9.950 and three others — Zurales, Martinez and Sampson — with a score of 9.925. UCLA only scored 49.300 on the floor exercise, assuring Michigan of the victory.