Page 12-The Michigan Daily- Friday, March 191993
Men tumblers head
into Big Tens healthy
by Scott Burton
Daily Sports Writer
For much of the season, the Big
Ten appeared to be dominated by
two teams - Minnesota and Ohio
State. And last Saturday, even
Michigan men's gymnastics coach
Bob Darden conceded that this
weekend's Big Ten championship
was the Buckeyes' or the Gophers'
However, in light of recent
events in the Big Ten, Darden's
opinion has changed.
Iowa, a team near Michigan's
level, beat Minnesota last Saturday.
The night before, Michigan State put
up a score in the 280s, which com-
pares favorably with anyone in the
conference. And the Wolverines
produced their highest score of the
season in last Saturday's Michigan
"One and two is up in the air, as
are the rest of the positions," Darden
said yesterday as his team finished
its last home practice of the year. "It
will be a very tight and hotly-
contested Big Ten championship.
Everyone is feeling the hype at the
end of the season."
As the gap between Minnesota
and Ohio State and the rest of the
conference has dwindled, the Wol-
verines said they have placed their
eyes on going into the Big Tens and
surprising a few people.
"If all goes according to plan and
well and we're latched on to our
consistent performance, I'm predict-
ing a real high finish," Darden said.
Sophomore Brian Winkler con-
curred with Darden's high hopes.
"We have the level to compete
with anyone, we just have to have
the consistency to hit every event,"
Winkler said. "If we do that, we're
Big Ten champions."
One cause of the Wolverines'
optimism going into the meet is the
fact that for the first time all season,
they feature a completely healthy
lineup. The team is so stacked with
capable athletes, the coaches said
they don't even know who will
compete at the Big Tens.
"It will be a real, real tough as-
signment for me and (assistant
coach) Mike Milodonis," Darden
said. "We really don't know who's
going to go in yet."
The health kick began two weeks
ago when top gymnasts Brian
Winkler and Royce Toni competed
for the first time all season.
No one on Michigan is com-
plaining about the abundance of
healthy athletes on the sidelines. It is
a luxury that every coach loves to
have, and the gymnasts on the team
said they look forward to sporting
the best team possible this weekend.
"For the first time all season, we
are starting a lot of guys who are re-
ally healthy," Toni said. "This is the
best team we've had on the floor all
season. We jumped five points last
week - I can see us jump another
three or four this week."
The Big Ten championship fea-
tures two days of competition. To-
morrow, seven Big Ten teams
(Minnesota, Ohio State, Michigan,
Michigan State, Penn State, Illinois
and Iowa) will compete against each
other for the title. Sunday, eight
gymnasts on each team go on to
compete for individual titles.
by Mike Rancilio Plocki expects her to have another
Daily Sports Writer solid blars rotine tomorr
Defending conference champion.
The last time a Michigan women's
gymnastics team had this title going
into the Big Ten conference meet
was 10 years ago.
The Wolverines are hoping for
better results this decade, as they
host the Big Ten championships at
Crisler Arena tomorrow night at 7
p.m. Michigan coach Bev Plocki
feels the team's depth and health has
it poised for a strong performance.
"We are in good shape," Plocki
said. "We've rested gymnasts all
year long, and that has helped us
If the team is to record a success-
ful title defense, something that
eluded Michigan in 1983, it will
have to hold off 13th-ranked Penn
State, as well as Ohio State and
Michigan State. The meet will be the
first Big Ten Championship for the
Nittany Lions, who entered the con-
ference this season.
It will also serve as the season's
rubber match between the Spartans
and the Wolverines. Michigan suf-
fered its only conference defeat at
the hands of Michigan State at the
Michigan State Invitational in
February. Later during spring break
in Florida, Michigan beat the
Spartans. That leaves round three for
With all the underlying stories at-
tached to this year's championships,
Michigan will need a full-squad ef-
fort to accomplish the goal of repeat-
ing. Fortunately for the Wolverines,
their younger gymnasts have devel-
oped quickly and have gained ex-
perience during the regular season.
"I expect strong performances
from all the freshmen," Plocki said.
"They've all come on strong this
season. Dianna Ranelli has filled in
on vault, floor and bars - wherever
we've needed her. And I think
Wendy Marshall is ready to make an
impact on the Big Ten."
Tina Miranda has also performed
steadily throughout the season, and
qJi4u u *a tvuwttc Jiv JIJttuw.
Beth Wymer, defending all
around champion, enters the meet
riding a high from the week ago. In a
competition against Ball State,
Oklahoma and Western Michigan,
NCAA Softball Coaches Poll
Njm Team (first place votes) Pts.
1. Arizona (6) 120
2. UCLA 114
3. UNLV 105
4. Florida State 98
5. Fresno State 92
(tie) Oklahoma State 92
7. Cal State-Northridge 89
8. California 79
9. Michigan 69
10. Southwestern Louisiana 66
she took the all-around crown and
recorded a team record 9.95 score on
Plocki expressed some concern
over the All-American's health.
Wymer has been under the weather
"She has a little cold, with a sore
throat," her coach said. "She re-
ceived antibiotics and we expect her
to be ready."
If Wymer is fully recovered,
tommorrow night's meet will signify
the second half of the Wolverines
season-- rather than the end. Wymer,
teamed with fellow all-Big Ten per-
formers Kelly Carfora and Ali
Winski and the rest of the deep
squad, should lead the Wolverines to
qualification for the national tourna-
ment. The defense of the Big Ten ti-
tle marks the first leg of the journey
to the NCAA's.
Debbie Geiger competes on the balance beam last Friday. Tomorrow at
Crisler Arena, Michigan will try to win its second consecutive Big Ten title.
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