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April 17, 2014 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 7A

Underdog Michigan eyes Super Six berth

Seniors inspire
confidence, hope
for repeat of 2011's
magical run
By CINDY YU
Daily Sports Writer
"Now or never."
That's the slogan the captains
of the No. 7 Michigan women's
gymnastics
team came up
with at the Michigan
beginning of at NCAA
the season. For
the seniors, it Champ.
refers to their Matchup:
last chance Michigan 22-4
to show When: Friday-
what they've Sunday
prepared for Where:
all year. For irminghamr ,
everyone else Ala.
on the squad, Video: ESPN3
it means to (Sat. and Sun.)
step up -
something the
Wolverines have been familiar
with.
Collectively, the senior
class has won two Big Ten
Championships, picked up one
regular-season conference title
and qualified for three NCAA
Championships.
They have impressed
individually, too.
Natalie Beilstein is a two-time
NCAA All-American. Shelby
Gies was named to the All-Big
Ten team the previous two
years, while Reema Zakharia
was the 2011 NCAA Regional
runner-up on floor exercise.
Joanna Sampson, the reigning
NCAA floor champion, is one
of the six finalists for the 2014
AAI Award, presented annually
to the top senior student-athlete
in NCAA Division I women's

Sampson said. "That is the
purpose of having a team. They
can be up there. If someone
makes a mistake, someone is
there to pick you up."
Michigan not only qualified
for NCAA Regionals after losing
sophomore Austin Sheppard,
the No. 2 vaulter in the nation,
to an ankle injury, but also it
placed first over one-time NCAA
championGeorgia.Atthe BigTen
Championships two weeks prior
to the regional, the Wolverines
won the meet despite being
put in a challenging position,
competing in the earlier, often
lower-scoring session.
Though it has never won
a national championship,
Michigan has competed against
multiple champions. The
Wolverines toppled Georgia,
UCLA and Utah, three of just
five schools to claim the title.
"Everybody always wants to
talk about the teams that have
won, almost as if those are the
only ones who can win," said
Michigan coach Bev Plocki,
"We need to go in there with
that chip on our shoulder once
again and prove everyone
wrong just like we did at the Big
Ten Championships."
Only five teams have ever
won a national championship.
At the Donald R. Shepherd
Training Center, 21 conference
banners hang from the ceiling.
There is space reserved in the
very center - a perfect spot for a
national championship banner.
"Would we like to hang one?"
Plocki said. "Absolutely."
Want updates from the
NCAA Championships?
Follow@theblockm on Twitter or
check MichiganDaily.com throughot
the weekend for updates and
excusivecoverage
BY THE NUMBERS
Michigan women's gymnastics

ALLISONJrRsbnssnaily
Joanna Sampson was brought to tears when Lindsay Williams posted a season-best scute after the senior had fallen us the uneven bars at NCAA tetionals.

gymnastics.
With the final meet of their
college careers looming, they
have just one goal in mind: to
qualify for the Super Six.
Friday afternoon, Michigan
will face No. 2 Oklahoma, No.
3 LSU, No. 6 Georgia, No. 10
Stanford and No. 11 Illinois
in the first semifinal session
of the NCAA Championships
at the Birmingham Jefferson
Convention Complex in
Birmingham, Ala.
The Wolverines must place
in the top three to advance to
Saturday's Super Six, and the
top four individuals from each
semifinal session on every event
will also advance to the individual
event finals on Sunday.

The last time the Wolverines other's formula for success.
appeared in the Super Six - From a large senior class, to
the equivalent of the Final major contributions made
Four in basketball - was when by the underclassmen, to the
the senior personalities
gymnasts and
were interactions
freshmen. "It would mean in the gym,
"This year to hitting
feels a lot like the world to the routines
our freshman at crucial
year in 2011," team ... to make it moments,
Gies said. "It Gies
would mean back, expressed a
the world to feeling of deja
the team and vu.
to me to make What
it back to that distinguishes
step." the 2013-14 team, though, is its
And it's no surprise that ability to overcome adversity
both teams mimic each and pick one another up,

especially when the stakes are
highest in competition.
"I've never really been on a
team like this before," Gies said.
"If there's one thing on this
team that we all know how to
do, it's to fight. We don't give up
any extra tenths. We just keep
fighting until the last person."
Beilstein and sophomore
Lindsay Williams did just that on
April 5, clinching their season-
best scores after Sampson fell
for the first time this season on
uneven bars at NCAA Regionals.
Williams, in the lineup for
just the third time this season,
brought tears to Sampson's eyes
with her performance.
"I hugged her multiple
times, half-crying after beam,"

NCAA Rankings
1. Florida
2. Oklahoma
3. LSU
4. Alabama
5. Utah
6. Georgia
7. Michigan
8. UCLA
9. Nebraska
10. Stanford

STAT OF THE DAY:

MICHIGAN HAS
QUALIFIED FOR THE 196.850
NCA A CHAMPIONSHIPS Scoreatthe2013NCAAChampionships,
20 TIMES IN THE LAST "te"*'
by less Ithan four-tenths of a point.
22 SEASONS

SHE SAID IT: COACH BEV PLOCKI
"We need to go in there
with that chip on our
shoulder once again and
prove everyone wrong."

4
Gymnasts who have won individual
championships withthe Wolverines. The
last wasJoanna Sampson in 2013.
166
All-American honors in the historyof
the program, distributed between 40
gymnasts.
Percentageof Michigan's routines this
year that have come from its four-person
senior class.

GOODBYE CENTRAL CAMPUS,
HELLO CENTRAL PARK.
Contact a fellow U of M alum to help
you find your NYC home.
Michael Kaufman BA 08
Lic. R. E. Salesperson
212.769.9893
michael.kaufman eliman.com

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