March 31, 2007
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Michigan returned to the top of the podium in Big Ten Championship action Saturday night with a 196.575-196.475 edge over host school Penn State. Despite competing most of the season without a number of its top gymnasts the Wolverines pulled themselves together to capture their 14th team title as well as two individual titles. Michigan had a seven-year title streak snapped last year when they finished fourth behind a Minnesota Golden Gophers team that celebrated their fifth title in program history.
Neck and neck competition was evident in the battle between first and second place. Despite a strong performance by Freshman of the Year Brandi Personett and a supportive home crowd, No. 12 Penn State was edged by No. 13 Michigan by 0.100 point margin. Illinois compiled some of its best performances of the year to take third-place honors - marking the Fighting Illini's best team finish since taking third in the 1988 edition of the championships. Ohio State finished in fourth place with 194.025. The defending champion Gophers placed fifth with a score of 193.225 while the Hawkeyes took sixth with a mark of 192.750. Michigan State rounded out the team standings with a score of 192.650.
Vault proved to be one of the highest scoring events of the night. The standard was set at 9.950 by PSU's Personett. Personett was ranked eighth in the conference on vault coming into the weekend and improved on her previous high score of 9.850. Michigan's Nellie Kippley and Michigan State's Rochelle Robinson tied for second with scores of 9.875 and were joined on the podium by teammates Maureen Moody (MICH) and Kristen Coleman (MSU) in a tie for fourth place with marks of 9.850.
Illinois' Cara Pomeroy led a Fighting Illini team that recorded its highest uneven bars score of the year by claiming sole possession of the individual crown with a score of 9.950. Four gymnasts tied for second place with scores of 9. 900 that included Penn State's Katie Perret and Corissa Pirkl, Michigan's Tatjana Thuener-Rego and Illinois' Sarah Schmidt.
Balance beam is considered to be the ultimate equalizer, however Michigan had no problem with the four inch margin of error event by taking both first and second place finishes. Becky Bernard claimed the top spot on the podium with a 9.900 routine while teammate Nellie Kippley placed second with a mark of 9.875. Penn State's Casey Roherbaugh was close behind her in third with a score of 9.850. Katie Perret and Personett added to the Nittany Lion's strength in a four way tie for fourth. They were joined by Illinois teammates Kim Kruk and Pomeroy who all recorded scores of 9.825.
The Wolverines took four of the top five slots in the floor exercise. Wolverine Katie Lieberman reached the podium with a solid 9.900 routine while Thuener-Rego took second with a score of 9.875. PSU's Aslynn Satterfield and Personett and Michigan's Bernard all scored 9.850 to match a three-way tie for third.
With the vault title already locked down, Personett picked up all-around honors, as well, with a score of 39.425. She edged Huneh Lor (MICH), who took second with a score of 39.150, and Iowa's Kara Pinjuv who captured third with a mark of 39.075. Michigan's Thuener-Rego and Illinois' Nicole Cowart both tallied scores of 39.000 for fourth place finishes.
The Big Ten announced the winners of three post season awards at the conclusion of the championships. Michigan State's Kristen Coleman, a two-time All-Big Ten first team award winner, snagged the award for Gymnast of the Year. The 2007 Big Ten Freshman of the Year award went to Penn State's Brandi Personett. Ohio State's third-year coach Carey Fagan was honored by her peers as Coach of the Year.
The 2007 All-Big Ten first team featured two-time All-Conference honorees in Tatjana Thuener-Rego of Michigan, Kristen Coleman of Michigan State and Maalika Moore-Thomas of Ohio State. Making their very first Big Ten first-team appearances were Iowa's Katie Burke, Michigan's Becky Bernard, and Ohio State's Kaylan Clevinger. In addition, an outstanding four freshmen made first team debuts including Illinois' Nicole Cowart, Michigan State's Nicole Curler and Rochelle Robinson and Penn State's Brandi Personett.
Members of the All-Big Ten second team include Illinois' Julie Crall and Cara Pomeroy; Iowa's Kara Pinjuv, Katie Turcotte and Jennifer Simbhudas; Michigan's Katie Lieberman and Huneh Lor; Minnesota's Carmelina Carabajal; and Penn State's Katie Perret and Stephanie Sullivan.
The conference office also announced honorees from each team for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. The student-athletes chosen are individuals who have distinguished themselves through sportsmanship and ethical behavior. In addition, the student-athletes must be in good academic standing and have demonstrated good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting. Honorees for women's gymnastics are Illinois' Marijka Botterman, Iowa's Kara Pinjuv, Michigan's Nellie Kippley, Michigan State's Katlyn Roggensack, Minnesota's Amanda Miles, Ohio State's Alyssa Meyer and Penn State's Ashley Mehrer. These seven student-athletes are now candidates for the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award, as the conference office will honor one male and one female student-athlete from each institution at the end of the school year.