The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - September 3, 1996 - 9F
By Will McCahill
aly Sports Writer
Another season, another Big Ten title.
"That's how the 1995-96 season went
for the Michigan women's swim team.
The Wolverines won their 10th con-
secutive Big Ten crown behind a mix of
ipperclass experience and new blood.
yMichigan finished third at the NCAA
championships at Canham Natatorium.
r Michigan began its conference title
'.fense by trouncing Michigan State at
"st Lansing, continuing its dominance
U the Spartans with a ninth consecutive
-Vklverine victory. Freshman Jenny
Kurth's victory in the 400-meter butter-
flyhighlighted Michigan's romp.
;Although the top-ranked Wolverines
ewe still in their early season training
4yie - which aims to have the team in
top- form for March's NCAA champi-
oiships - Michigan hosted national
powerhouse Stanford in its home open-
rat Canham Natatorium on Oct. 21.
The Cardinals, further along in their
training cycle, dropped the Wolverines,
The first weekend in November found
Michigan facing more national powers
deep in the heart of Texas. Only host
Southern Methodist finished ahead of
the Wolverines in the six-team field.
Several mid-winter road trips took the
team to Texas, Hawaii, California and
Alabama. Michigan won the Rainbow
By Sharat Raju
Daily Sports Writer
A mere glance at the 0-12 record post-
ed by the Michigan men's gymnastics
team this past year is enough to make
most people wince. However, the record
alone cannot accurately relate what went
in this eventful season.
: ddly enough, the most memorable
event of the season didn't occur in the
g. On March 21, Wolverine head
coach Bob Darden announced his resig-
nation, effective at the end of the season.
"I'm departing at a time when I feel it
is appropriate," Darden said, following
the announcement. "I've seen the team
through 13 building years, starting from
a period of real lean, and built it up to
*eventh in the nation (at one point)."
With a 76-109-1 coaching record in
13 seasons, Darden has been a corner-
stone of the Michigan coaching com-
munity. He coached five Big Ten cham-
pions and, in 1992, a national champion,
In 1994, Darden was named Big Ten
Coach of the Year, the same year the
Wolverines ended the season ranked
No. 7 nationally with a record of 12-5.
So why did his squad go winless this
st season? There may not be a single
answer, but the most legitimate stems
from several years ago.
In 1994, the program was in danger of
losing its varsity status. To save the pro-
gram, several benefits were sacrificed,
l(The lack of scholarships) makes
recruiting difficult," assistant coach Tim
O'Connell said. "But if we put a lot of
pergy into it and convince the kids
ey'll be part of the team, we'll get
some good athletes."
Combining the difficulty of recruit-
ing top gymnasts and performing in the
Big Ten, arguably the toughest gymnas-
tics conference in the nation, the dismal
record is more understandable.
Soon after Darden announced his res-
ignation, the Wolverines hosted the
Michigan Invitational at Cliff Keen
Arena. This meet was the last home
ppearance by Darden and the three
seniors - Brad Terris, Kris Klinger and
team captain Chris Onuska.
The team's 217.75 point total was a
season high - nine of the 11 Wolverines
had season highs, while six had career
highs. The team also scored season bests
in four events - floor exercise, pommel
horse, rings and parallel bars.
"The meet was very emotional for me
d the other seniors," Onuska said.
hen you see your parents and your
mmcrying, it really hits home.'
The clear team leaders were Klinger,
Onuska, junior Flavio Martins and
junior Jason McDonald. Klinger and
MacDonald performed well on the high
bir-and floor exercise, while Martins
Men spikers improve despite
injuries, little experience
The women's swimming team captured its ninth consecutive Big Ten title and
scored a record number of points at the meet. Most of the squad returns this year.
Invitational and clobbered UC-San
Diego, but fell to Southern Cal, Auburn
and Alabama in the course of the journey.
Sophomore Kerri Hale starred during
the trip, winning the 200-meter butterfly
against USC and the 1,650-meter
freestyle in the Auburn-Alabama meet.
Michigan wasted little time when it
returned, facing Indiana and Ohio State
in its final regular-season meets. After
beating the Hoosiers, the Wolverines
laid the Buckeyes to waste, more than
doubling Ohio State's score.
At Big Tens on Feb. 22-24, the
Wolverines were undeniably the most-
prepared squad to hit the pool. Michigan
left the rest of the conference in its for-
midable wake on its way to scoring the
most points ever at a conference cham-
pionship meet and taking its 10th
straight conference title.
"It was a total team performance,"
Michigan head coach Jim Richardson
said. "Our freshmen stepped up and did
a great job:'
In the season finale, the Wolverines
hosted the NCAA championships, but
couldn't quite live up to their own
expectations, placing third behind neme-
ses Stanford and SMU, both of whom
made Michigan a regular-season victim.
The 1996-97 Wolverines look to be
able to maintain the winning ways of its
predecessors, as the team lost only four
seniors to graduation. The bulk of the
squad will be juniors and sophomores,
to be complemented by the addition of
another good crop of recruits.
By Mark Snyder
Daily Sports Writer
Who says consistency is the key to
The men's volleyball team came into
the season with little experience and
even less direction. It dealt with contin-
ual changes in personnel, which made
the up-and-down season even more of a
The squad voted Jamie Reynolds as
its captain and president and put the dis-
sension, which had characterized the
previous season, behind it.
Throughout the season the Wolverines
were determined to improve - and did
After an early-season loss to Michigan
State in Ann Arbor, Michigan had its back
against the wall. The team was having
trouble coming together and was looking
to gain confidence - anywhere.
To make matters worse, middle block-
er Suresh Pothiraj came down with
mononucleosis and was sidelined for
about a month. Pothiraj's return coincid-
ed with the activation of Chad Stilstra
from the bench.Stilstra, who played for
Michigan for four years while an under-
graduate, had been serving as an assis-
tant coach for the Wolverines.
The team began to gel as the season
progressed, but there were still missing
pieces. Ernesto Rodriguez joined the
team mid-season, instantly improving
the squad's fundamentals. Nearly all the
players agreed that Rodriguez's addition
to the team was significant. Rodriguez
has played competitive volleyball nearly
all his life - a fact which raised the con-
fidence of the team.
Michigan gained momentum heading
into the Big Ten tournament in early
April, but injuries hit. Andy Spitser was
downed with a broken thumb and
Pothiraj twisted his knee.
Michigan overcame those setbacks to
defeat the Spartans and advance to the
tournament round of the championships.
The Wolverines were knocked out in the
Michigan extended its winning atti-
tude to the national championships for
club teams. The Wolverines entered the
tournament ranked 31st and finished
17th in the nation.
Michigan should enter next season
with confidence from its late-senasop
rush of victories - if the players know
who their teammates are.
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Wheredo to e o p do
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January 30 L