8 - The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, March 28, 1994
Wolverine gymnasts finish
fifth place at Big Ten meet
By TONYA BARTOW
FOR THE DAILY
UNIVERSITY PARK - In a season filled
with emotional ups and downs, the members of
the No. 5 Michigan men's gymnastics team
came to the Big Ten Championship with the
hopes of improving on the success they've had
so far this year.
No. 2 Ohio State finished first with a score of
286.975, which is the highest score for a Big Ten
Championship since the scoring format was re-
vised in 1982. Other team places were: Iowa
(280.6), Penn State (279.125), Minnesota (276.25),
Michigan (274.55), Illinois (274.525), and Michi-
gan State (270.6).
This is the second year Michigan placed fifth,
somewhat ofa disappointment since the team was
"I think that what we learned from this expe-
rience will prove how good we really are,"junior
Raul Molina said.
Ohio State freshman Drew Durbin finished
first in the all-around, and cane away with the
honor of Big Ten Gymnast of the Year.
"I was definitely surprised to win the all-
around," Durbin said. "I wasn't even thinking
about winning that."
The Wolverines started off the competition on
the rings, a change of pace for them.
"Scores were really tight, but we competed
well," junior Rich Dopp said. "Reaction to the
routines was positive and the scores so negative.
This difference sums up where we got started off
on the wrong foot. We were never able to go six
Going into the last event Michigan was in
contention for second place.
"I guess that last event is our Achilles' heel, no
matter what event it might be," Michigan coach
Robert Darden said. "You've got to be proud. The
guys have been riding on a real emotional sea-
But the team could not dwell on the down side
of Saturday's meet. They had to look ahead to
The top eight finishers in Saturday's meet
advanced to compete in the Individual Event
Finals. Seven Wolverines earned the right to
compete, three in two events, and four in one
The crowd on Sunday was tame compared
to past meets, but Michigan's fans were as loud
as ever. They cheered on as their teammates
competed and even for their opponents when
they did well.
Dopp had an outstanding meet, tying for
second on the high bar with a career high score
of 9.8. He also placed second on the floor
"Today was just great," Dopp said. "I did
the best I could, and I can't think of a better time
to do it."
Junior Brian Winkler finished a strong sec-
ond on the vault. He also competed on the floor
'What we learned from this
experience will prove how
good we really are.'
- Raul Molina
exercise where he finished 7th.
"The individual effort was outstanding,"
Winkler said. "Vault was a surprise to me."
Senior Ben Verrall was the third Wolverine
to compete in two events. He placed fifth and
sixth on the floor and rings, respectively.
Other single event competitors for Michi-
gan were in the pommel horse and the parallel
bars. Senior Michael Mott tied for sixth in the
pommel horse. On the parallel bars, senior
Royce Toni and juniors Bob Young and Molina
finished 10th, 11Ith and 12th, respectively .
Darden earned a share of the Coach of the
Year award with Ohio State coach Peter
"I'm accepting this award more on the be-
half of the guys," Darden said.
By JOSH KARP
DAILY SPORTS WRITER
UNIVERSITY PARK - Is the
glass half full or half empty?
Well, forthe No. 5Michigan men's
gymnastics team, it's half full. Sure,
the Wolverines finished in fifth place
in theBigTenChampionships and had
a lower score (274.55) than last year
(275.05). Butthe squad has been riding
on an emotional rollercoaster all sea-
Theteam had entered its 50th cam-
paign with an understanding that it
would be cut after the season hadended.
With only six athletic scholarships and
no money topublicize their meets, the
Wolverines seemingly had a long year
ahead of them. But instead of suc-
cumbing to the pressure of losing its
program, the squad pulled together and
had one of its best seasons ever.
Bob Young emerged as
Michigan's top gymnast, becoming
its leading all-arounder. Brian Winkler
and Royce Toni fought through back
injuries to excel on floor exercise and
high bar, respectively. In addition,
the Wolverines scored a school record
282.25 against Ohio State. Coach Bob
Darden has kept his team together
during these hard times, and through
the squad's closeness, Michigan has@
emerged as one of the superior pro-
grams in the nation. But as good as the
Wolverines are, they've had to face
the reality of waving goodbye to a
rich tradition of gymnastics at Michi-
gan - until now.
In Friday'sAnnArborNews, it was
reported that new Michigan athletic
director Joe Roberson requested a re-
nastics. If President Duerstadt and the
Board of Regents approve Roberson's
proposal, Michigan men's gymnastics
Earlier this year, Michigan regent
Paul Brown said that in April, he'd
introduce a resolution placing a four-
year moratorium on the University
dropping sports until gender equity is
clearly defined. But Roberson, work-
ing with the Board in Control, is
reportedly trying to reverse the deci-
sion to cut men's gymnastics right
However, Michigan gymnastics
will have to become a non-scholarship
sport in order to remain varsity. Al-
though the program can continue to
support those gymnasts who already
receive scholarships, it will not offer
new ones to incoming athletes. This
doesn't help Michigan recruit the gym-
nasts it needs to compete with other
schools, but for now, the team will take
anything it can get.
"I love (the decision) because it
means a future for us," junior Rich
Dopp said. "The future (of our pro-
gram) can be fantastic. (It looks) very
Optimism is the only thing that the
Wolverines can rely on now. Through-
out the season, Michigan has tried to
perform perfectly in order to catch the
eyes of the regents. Now, despite a
fifth place finish at the conference
meet, the Wolverines are more hope-
ful than ever about their fate.
Kris Klinger competes on the high bar at the Big Ten meet in University Park, Penn.
Continued from page 1
University ofIowa and the University
of Illinois placed fifth through sev-
Wymer captured four individual
titles and now holds all of the Big Ten
records for individual performances.
Wymer placed first on the vault
with the first-ever 10.00. She took top
honors on the uneven bars with a 9.925.
In addition, she won the floor exercise
(9.90) and all-around with a 39.450.
"I was really excited because vault
is my weakest event," Wymer said.
"The whole meet I was really excited,
because our team was doing well and
Junior Kelly Cafora was the only
captain healthy and able to compete.
She led the team by example through-
out the competition.
Cafora placed second in the all-
around with a 39.20 and won the
balance beam title with a 9.875.
"It means a lot to win three titles,"
Cafora said. Going into the last event,
I wanted to show the rest of the team
what it takes to be champions."
Sophomore Wendy Marshall was
the third Wolverine to capture all-Big
Ten honors. She placed fourth in the
all-around with a 38.80.
Despite all of the individual ac-
complishments of the top three gym-
"asts, the title was won with the
strength of the rest of the squad.
Sophomore Dianna Ranelli and
Junior Debbie Berman both had solid
"The whole team worked hard for
it," Berman said. "It feels very good."
Junior LiLi Leung had a tough
few weeks prior to Saturday's com-
petition. Leung battled a serious vi-
rus to compete on the vault.
"Deep down it feels good to con-
tribute physically to the champion-
ship," Leung said. "I just wanted to
hit and get the ball rolling."
The Wolverines did an outstanding
job blocking out the crowd noise and
distractions. McDonald was particu-
larly focused during her beam routine.
Despite the deafening noise, she turned
in a clean set in the crucial last event.
"I don't think the crowd affected
us negatively," McDonald said. "We
were prepared for it prior to coming
into this arena."
The Wolverines set a new school
and Big Ten record on the vault with
a 49.325. The old record was nearly
two years old.
The strength of the team was epito-
mized by its ability to hit six for six
when the pressure was on. The Wol-
verines scored a new record of 48.950
on the beam. The team hopes to carry
the momentum of its record-setting
conference title into the Regionals at
Alabama April 9.
Leadershp key for Wolverines
Senior captains lead women tumblers to third straight title
By TOM BAUSANO
DAILY SPORTS WRITER
UNIVERSITY PARK - Senior
leadership was an integral part of
the championship for the women's
gymnastics team. The three captains
- Wendy Wilkinson, Nicole
Simpson and Kelly Carfora - each
have a different leadership style and
this has made this team unique from
These three individuals were a part
of the team before all of the champi-
onships. They remember the .500 sea-
sons and basement finishes.
The most important aspect of
their leadership is their emphasis on
team unity over individual suc-
cesses. It is this quality that sepa-
rates Michigan from most other
This season, Carfora has been the
quiet leader who tries to show the
younger athletes how to become
"She's always leading by ex-
ample," former teammate Debbie
Geiger said. "Kelly is always the first
person in the gym and the last one to
Carfora certainly led by example
at the Big Ten Championships. The
Wolverines needed to hit all of their
routines in the last event in order to
win. Carfora won the event and fired
up her teammates.
"I just try to give people the men-
tal strength to win," Carfora said. "I
just want to show my teammates what
it takes to win."
Prior to her re-occurring knee in-
jury, Wendy Wilkinson contributed
not only as a motivating teammate
but also as agreat athlete.
I just want to show my
teammates what it
takes to win.'
--Kelly Car fora
"Wendy is a really important part
of our team," freshman Andrea
McDonald said. "She wears a ring of
mine during the meets and I think the
team strives to win not just for our-
selves but for Wendy."
Wilkinson is always the first per-
son to hug the gymnast when they
come off a routine and is always pre-
pared to give them the word of en-
couragement that they may need.
"I try to help keep everyone
psyched up," Wilkinson said. "I try to
instill confidence in the competitors
to believe in themselves. Even though
I wasn't in the lineup, this was the
best championship. There is no better
way to go out than on top."
Simpson provides most of the ver-
bal leadership for the team.
"Nicole is a little more calm than
Wendy," coach Bev Plocki said. "She
just has a knack for knowing the right
thing to say to everyone."
Anyone who talks with Simpson
understands how important keeping
the winning tradition is to her and the
rest of the captains.
"I just try to be real careful to read
everyone's feelings," Simpson said."I
try to keep a positive, straight forward
outlook. As a captain you look at the
other people to keep what you produced
going. One of our biggest concerns is to
make the rest of the team feel the way
we do about individual sacrifice for the
As a package, these three pro-
vide the leadership necessary to win
three consecutive Big Ten champi-
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