By Sharat Raju
ly Sports Writer
It's pretty safe to say that the Michigan
men's gymnastics team will be the under-
dog going into this weekend's Big Ten
championship meet at Columbus.
So what else is new?
The Big Ten is arguably the toughest
conference in the nation. Host Ohio State
is the top-ranked team in the country and
has been for the entire season. Iowa (No.
3); Michigan State (No. 4), Penn State
o. 6), Minnesota (No. 9), Illinois (No.
)and Michigan State (No. 8) are cer-
tainly-no slouches in competition, either.
This leaves No. 25 Michigan (0-10) in
a familiar position: the bottom of the list.
Normally, ateam would get down after
suffering 10 consecutive losses. But the
Wolverines are riding a wave of momen-
tum. They are most recently coming off
their best performance of the season, a
217.75 point team output.
*This total improved on their previous
oest by more than seven points. It was
also 10 points higher than their preceding
meet at Penn State.
"1 think this might be a good turning
point," Michigan junior Flavio Martins
said. "Now we know what we are capable
Michigan will have to improve its new
season-high if it intends to win the Big
Ten championship. The reality is that the
mpeting for the title.
Each ofthe othersix teams have at least
twoperformers in the top 20 in at least one
The big guns for the No. 10 Illini are
Greg. McGlaun and Yuval Ayalon.
McGlaun is ranked No. 10 on the vault
and No. 14 on the high bar, while Ayalon
During the Passove
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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, March 28, 1996 - 11A
Hers ready for
is No. 10 in the all-around. Illinois is
toughest in the high bar, ranked No. 3.
Minnesota, at No. 9, has three key
gymnasts - Chris Harrington, Frank
Ti cknorand Andrew Weaver. Harrington
is the most versatile performer of the
three, ranked fifth on the floor exercise
and seventh on the still rings and vault.
Ticknorand Weaver are ranked No. 17 on
the rings and No. 8 on the high bar,
respectively. The Golden Gophers are
strongest on the rings at No. 4.
Hugh Lau, Tyler Vogt and Aaron Cot-
terare the three notables for the Hawkeyes.
While Lau is ranked No. 12 on the pom-
mel horse, Cotter and Vogt are ranked
No. 16 and No. 18, respectively, in the all-
around. Vogt is also No. 19 on the high
bar and No. 20 on vault, while Cotter is
also No. 15 on the high bar. Iowa's team
strength lies on the vault and the parallel
bars (No. 3 in both).
Penn State has an extremely talented
squad with five members ranked in the
top 20 nationally in at least one event.
Roy Malka is the strength of the Nittany
Lions, ranked in five events. His No. 6
spot in the all-around includes being No.
16 on the parallel bars, No. 14 on the
rings, No. 10 on the pommel horse and
No. 9 on the all-around. In addition, Penn
State is the top-ranked team in the nation
on floor exercise.
Fourth-ranked Michigan State began
the season not even ranked in the top 20 in
the nation. The Spartans have enjoyed
success due in no small part to the six
nationally ranked gymnasts on their squad:
Ethan Sterk, Sam Smith, Chris Skidmore,
Joe Duda, Keith Douglass and Stephen
Bello. With Sterk ranked No. 9 on the
pommel horse, No. 15 on the high barand
No. 5 in the all-around, and Duda at No.
7 on the rings, No. 4 on the parallel bars
and No. 8 in the all-around, they are a
tough combination to beat. The Spartans'
No. 4 ranking in pommel horse is the
team's strongest event.
The team to beat, however, will be host
"Winning the Big Ten is one of our
goals," Ohio State coach Peter Kormann
said. "It means a lot to those guys."
"Those guys" refers to a group of tal-
ent-laden gymnasts. Nine Buckeye gym-
nasts are nationally ranked in at least one
event. Five of those are ranked in at least
three events. Two of those five are U.S.
National team members Blaine Wilson
and Drew Durbin.
Make no mistake, those two are quite a
potent combination. Wilson is No. 2 in
the all-around, including No. 8 on the
floor exercise, No. 15 on the pommel
horse, No.3 on the rings and high bars and
a top-ranking on the parallel bars. Durbin
is the top-ranked performer on the pom-
mel horse and No. 4 on the parallel bars
and the all-around.
The Wolverines look to have a tough
weekend ahead of them. There are no
Michigan gymnasts that are ranked in the
top 20 nationally, although the team is
ranked No. 17 on the high bar.
The team is not intimidated by these
opponents, however. The Wolverines
hope to ride the momentum from their
season-high performance last week. They
also want to end the season on a high note
for the sake of outgoing coach Bob
"They've proven to themselves that it
is a dynamic that they have ... to do this
well," Darden said. "(Their performance)
will show for the talent and ability we
always knew existed in the program."
MA RK FRIEDMAN/Daily
Former Michigan gymnast Brian Winkler (1992-95) was an NCAA Regional champion last year in the floor exercise,
as well as a seventh-place finisher at the 1995 NCAA Championships. The loss of performers like Winkler has
contributed to the Wolverines' 0-10 start this season.
.. ate ::..:.: ...
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