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January 21, 1997 - Image 15

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-01-21

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GYMNASTICS

The Michigan t a;y -. SPORTSTuesday - January 21, 1997 - 3B

Gophers nearly
aig their way
but of deep hole
By Jacob Wheeler
Daily Sports Writer
- oach Bev Plocki was forced to stand on the sidelines and
t out the final apparatus against Minnesota on Saturday
night, as the womens' gymnastics team almost blew an insur-
Mpountable lead of 2.2 points during the meet's second half.
n After dominating the vault, bars and beam apparatuses, the
Wolverines suffered through the floor exercise, falling three
times before Sarah Cain secured the match with a score of 9.9.
"I would have been happier if we would have finished
strohger' Plocki said. "The number of falls on the floor were
surprising."
* But Michigan's performances on the first three apparatuses
were exceptional.
l4ichigan ousted the Golden Gophers by 0.6 points on the
vault, 1.6 on the bars and 1.025 on the beam, eventually win-
ning the match 193.525 to 192.1.
"They were pretty fired up," Plocki said. "They knew what
they needed to do tonight, regardless of some not-so-good prac-
tices this past week:'
Michigan delivered the bounce-back performance it needed
after losing at underdog West Virginia the weekend before. The
Wolverines dropped to No. 11 in the national rankings before
Saturday's meet.
Coming back to Ann Arbor, however, proved to be the dif-
nce. Michigan performed its home opener in front of 1,801,
the third-largest crowd ever at Cliff Keen Arena - despite the
hockey game half a block away at Yost Arena.
"We were much more within our comfort zone tonight"
Plocki said. "The crowd was awesome."
The recent populous crowds at Cliff Keen are a direct result
of Michigan's success this decade. The Wolverines own the last
five Big Ten championship banners.
"What we've been able to do nationally has really increased
our popularity," Plocki said.
In addition, sports like women's gymnastics usually thrive
r an Olympic year.
y the time Michigan competed in the balance beam
Saturday, it had already built an immense lead on the vault and
the bars.
Behind scores of 9.9 by Cain on the vault and sophomore
Nikki Peters on the bars, the Wolverines appeared to have the
meet in the bag.
"I was concerned going straight to the beam, after our suc-
cess on the bars, however" Plocki said. "If you're too hyped on
the beam, it can create a lot of problems, and consequently a lot
of falls."
43ut Michigan's performance on the balance beam finally
came around after struggling earlier in the season. On Saturday,
the Wolverines delivered a strong score of 48.4.
"We've been training hard in that event," Plocki said. "But,
similar to getting your sea legs, it takes a few meets to get your
beam legs."
Once again, Cain recorded Michigan's top all-around score,
39.3. The freshman won the vault and placed second in the
beam (9.725) and the floor exercise (9.9).
"Sarah has a grace that sets her apart from the rest," Plocki
said. "We're going to see a lot of tens from her by the time she's
nior"
pleasant surprise Saturday, however, was Beth
Amelkovich. The sophomore delivered the meet's third-best all-
around score, a 38.8, and sparked the Wolverines with a score
of 9.8, to win the beam apparatus.
"Beth's routines were greatly improved tonight" Plocki said.

BARRY

MARGERT MYERS/Daily
Jose "Lalo" Halo and the rest of the Wolverines had difficulty holding themselves up to the competition
in the Windy City Invitational. Michigan finished eighth in the meet of nine Big Ten teams.
Windy City gusts too
bitter for -men tumlblers

By Eugene Bowen
Daily Sports Writer
Bittersweet moments littered the Michigan men's
gymnastics squad's first intercollegiate meet of the
season. Last week's Windy City Invitational in
Chicago hosted nine Big Ten schools. Michigan
came in eighth.
Senior Timothy DeGraw, a Western Michigan
transfer student, fulfilled his promise to "kick ass
and take names" by dominating the floor exercises,
earning a 9.75 and soundly grasping first place in
that event.
Freshman Jose Haro took a few names himself,
finishing fifth in the all-around with a score of
55.85. He was fourth on the parallel bars (9.55),
and he tied for fifth on the floor (9.5). Of the six
events in which he competed, he scored above a
nine in all but one (8.8 on the pommel horse).
But then came the bitter. And when it bit, it bit
hard - much like the microscopic critter which
unexpectedly downed senior co-captain Flavio
Martins and cut his planned all-around perfor-
mance in half. Three events into the competition,
Martins, who has been plagued with some sort of
minor flu for nearly the past week, was unable to
continue.
His performance scores on the parallel bars
(8.75), the horizontal bar (8.05) and the horse (7.1)
hinted at his weakening condition. When his turn
on the rings came, he couldn't go on.
"Flavio was sick and couldn't go on the rings;'
coach Kurt Golder said. "I turned to (senior) Koji

(Otsuka), who hadn't compted since high school
(1993). He really came through. Without his per-
formance, we would have finished ninth instead of
eighth."
Otsuka admits that his surprise participation was
more shocking to him than perhaps anyone else. He
remembers Golder coming to him when the rings
event began and telling him "We need you."
"I was like, 'What do you need?," Otsuka said.
Otsuka scored a 7.45 on the rings.
Golder notes that the tumblers will have to put
more work into their horse and rings routines.
"I was happy with most of our performances; he
said. "But we were hurt in the pommel horse and
rings, where we have the least amount of depth."
Senior co-captain Jason MacDonald agreed.
"We were a little low on pommel ;horse and
rings;" he said. "We need a little more confidence
in hitting. That's what we must focus on, but we
also must stay up on our better events. If we do that
we'll be a well-rounded team."
Sophomore Randy D'Amura's 6.95 performance
on the horse, while surpassing his 6.6 score at
December's Maize & Blue Intrasquad, was still
nothing to sing about. But his 9.0 vault and 9.15
floor routine provided him with some solace.
"I think we can have a very positive outlook on
the season," he said. "We're not where we want to
be right now, but we definitely can be there. We're
on our way. We're almost there. We just have to
keep working on everything at practice. If we do it
in practice, we'll do it in the meet:'

Guevaira f/ic only choi~ce
for MicA ig~an baisketball
n Friday night, a frutrated Catherine DiGiacinto sat in the Crisler Arena
ressroom.
"We did not expect o lose," the Michigan forward said after Indiana had
defeated Michigan, 72-59. Not in our house. At all."
Wzhat??!! She was joking, right? Didn't she mean to say, "Gee, I'm glad we
only lost by 13?"
Because in the past, it hasn't really mattered where the Wolverines have
played. At home or on the road, they have almost always lost.
Consider:
The Wolverines have haid only three winning seasons in school history.
They've lost at least 20 games in four of the past five seasons. And they haven't
won 10 games in a season since 1990-91, when they were 11-17.
Indeed, Michigan womcjn's basketball is a tradition in losing.
But things have change d. Or at least, things are changing.
The Wolverines are wirming.
Despite losing to the Hoosiers and then at Michigan State on Sunday,
Michigan is 11-5.
So why all of this receipt success?
Two words: Sue Guevara.
The interim coach has instilled a new attitude in the team during her six
months in Ann Arbor. Thee Wolverines are basically the same team they were a
year ago, with star freshunan Stacey Thomas and sophomore Ann Lemire (who
missed most of last seas~on with a knee injury) the only major additions, but now
they are playing with a newfound confidence.
"We're playing together better," Michigan senior Jennifer Kiefer said. "We're a
lot closer."
And this has been made possible by Guevara, who applauds more and yells
less than her predecessor, Trish Roberts, who never won more than eight games
in a season and had just;five league victories in four years.
"I think the key this mason is the coaching staff, to be honest Kiefer said. "I
think, in the past, it was like maybe (Roberts) tried to earn respect through fear,
and I don't think that's the way to go about it."
Michigan hired Guevara on July 11 under a unique set of circumstances. When
Roberts resigned to talkre a job in the American Basketball League, the Michigan
Athletic Department desired a nationwide search for its new coach.
But time was short, so Guevara was lured away from her assistant coaching
position at Michigan State to lead the Wolverines for a season. Hence the word
"interim" that is attached to her title.
Michigan's nationwide search was to begin in the spring, after the season.
But now it might not be necessary. Or at least, it shouldn't be. Not with the job
Guevara has done.
Michigan got off to its best start in school history by winning eight of nine
nonconference games;, matching its entire victory total of last year.
Not bad for an interim coach.
"You know, to be honest, we came out of the nonconference a little bit stronger
than I would have thought," Guevara said. "We came out 8-1, and I was thinking
7-2, at best, and, hopefully, 6-3."
But despite the Wolverines' eight victories, it was their one loss - a 77-74
defeat to then-No. 1 Stanford - that raised the most eyebrows.
Last season, Miclgan was 0-8 against ranked competition, with the closest
margin of defeat beng 15 points.
The Wolverines didn't beat Stanford, but they threw a scare into the No: 1 team
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